The Poetry Machine – Poetry News Roundup August 30th

Today in our poetry round up we here at My Poetic Side looks at the concept of the poetry machine and how it has evolved, and we offer our congratulations to the new poet Laureate of New Zealand.

The Poetry Machine

It sounds a bit far-fetched; a machine that writes poetry but the pursuit of creating such a machine has been consuming inventors for longer than you might imagine. In 1845, an inventor by the name of John Clark invented the Eureka machine, which he debuted at the Egyptian Hall in Piccadilly, London. He charged visitors the princely sum of 1 shilling to use the Eureka machine; all they had to do was wind up the wooden contraption, watch the tangle of revolving drums, wooden staves, and revolving drums, and the Eureka machine churned out a line of verse. The Latin verse would appear in the window on the front of the machine for all to read; it was grammatically and rhythmically correct – a completely correct line of dactylic hexameter, very like those produced by Virgil and Ovid.

The machine produced lines containing just six words and these never varied in their makeup; always adjective-noun-adverb-verb-noun-adjective. Although this might seem quite restrictive the machine was able to produce an estimated 26 million permutations. It was however met with much scepticism at the time, with reviewers referring to it as a “useless toy”.

Fast forward to 1959, and the creation of what is seen by many as the first computer poetry attempt. Mathematician, Theo Lutz wrote a program that could recombine the unfinished novel Das Schloss by Franz Kafka, although the result was a series of rather nonsensical sentences.

This program opened up the floodgates and computer-generated poetry became much more common place. It might be 200 years since the Eureka machine was invented and computer-generated poetry might have come along way but these programs can only really imitate the art that is poetry, there really is no substitute, yet, for the human emotion we see so often in poetry.

New Poet Laureate for New Zealand

Dr Selina Tusitala Marsh, an Auckland poet and academic has become the first ever Pasifika woman to be chosen to take up the title of Poet Laureate in New Zealand. Dr Marsh, who is of Samoan, Tuvaluan, Scottish and French decent takes over the prestigious post from renowned poet, C.K. Stead

The award was presented to Dr Marsh on National Poetry Day, which was also the date that she released her latest book of poetry, Tightrope. She is a well published poet having had poetry published in over 70 books and journals, in addition to her own books.

An Associate Professor and lecturer at the University of Auckland Dr Selina Tusitala Marsh was invited to perform some of her poetry before Queen Elizabeth II last year as the Commonwealth Poet.

She is looking forward to bringing poetry to everyone during her 2-year stint as the poet laureate and encourages others, no matter what their background, or ethnicity to follow their dreams and believe in themselves.

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