25th December 2011

Post

Hi my name is Ross Sutherland. I used to want to be a computer programmer, but since about 1996, I’ve been trying to write poetry instead.

To be honest, I never properly gave up on computing. Secretly, I always wanted to combine the two: poetry and computing! Together at last! That’s why I’ve spent the last 15 years (on and off) trying to get a computer program to write my poetry for me.

I always had a particular piece of software in mind, and I’ve ended up building a weird relationship with this program. Once upon a time, we were both young upstarts, ready to take on the world. But we’ve done a lot of growing up in the last 15 years. The program has expanded to become one of the most important utilities on the internet, buried deep at the heart of our global communications network. I, meanwhile, have released three modest chapbooks with London poetry press Penned In The Margins. So I’m not sweating it either.

In this documentary, I retrace my relationship with this particular computer program, and try to imagine what might happen to it in the future.

This film was commissioned as part of the 2011 London Word Festival and funded by Arts Council England.

I made it in about one week in February 2011, which I hope explains why I look so ill at the end. 

Below you can download a PDF, containing every poem that the two of us made together. Hopefully it works as a companion piece to the film. It’s called “National Language: Sixteen Translations From English Into English.” It may or may not be any good. 

Download “National Language” right here

Video extras:

Computer-Generated Sylvia Plath poem

Poetry Cafe hoax

And I have more stuff on my website, you guys.