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Zee Jaipur Literature Festival 2015: Vijay Shesadri says computer-driven poetry is not new

Artificial intelligence can now be programmed to spin out poems but Bangalore-born Pulitzer Prize winning poet Vijay Shesadri says computer-driven poetry isn't a new experiment but originated decades ago.

Jaipur: Artificial intelligence can now be programmed to spin out poems but Bangalore-born Pulitzer Prize winning poet Vijay Shesadri says computer-driven poetry isn't a new experiment but originated decades ago.

"The principals underlined in any computer driven poetry piece is interesting. They are just randomly generated but since they are randomly put together by computer doesn't mean they are new. They are fairly old. In fact the experiment started decades back," Shesadri told PTI in an interview on sidelines of the ongoing Jaipur Literature Festival.

Stating that poets resorting to computers to help them write "mash-ups" or "flarf poems" is not a new development technically but historically.

"If we go back to the 50s and read poems by John Cain or of those poets who were influenced by him...It's not the same aesthetic principle as computer driven poetry like the mash-ups or the flarf poems," he said.
The Bangalore-born, New York-based poet who had won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for his poetry collection, "3 Sections" believes there are interesting facts still unknown about this kind of poetry.

"There are so many fascinating facts about it and especially for people who are like me at the centre of the American tradition. They kind of experimented in it, admired it and generated it too," said the poet who teaches in a New York college.

Drawing a comparison with Jazz music, which has become common by now, Seshadri said, "I find this kind of poetry congenial and I am glad to be part of this landscape too. But I don't think that's something I would do as far as my passion for poetry is concerned," Shesadri said. "The same goes for reading too," he said. 

The 60-year-old poet who was born in Bangalore and came to America at the age of 5 said he does not feel obligated to use newer technologies to read and write.

"Just because there is such a thing called Kindle or an Ipad, I don't feel obligated that I have to use them to read. I think physical books are just fine. Tablets are wonderful piece of technology and they deliver beautifully what they are meant to deliver. Why would I relinquish the book which I like so much simply because the I pad is new," he said.

"Newness is totally progressive that adds something to what we have acquired already but would like to add that freshness to my content and not the way the content is written," added Shesadri. The poet, essayist and literary critic believes there are only few parts of poetry that can be taught.

"The harder part of poetry is metaphor making. It cannot be taught. You can either make metaphors or not make metaphors, you can either see the world metaphorically or not see the world metaphorically," he said.

"I don't think that everything which is poetic is necessarily a metaphor, similarly poetry is not something which can be necessarily taught or learned, it is an intellectual activity and can be as rigorous as mathematics," Shesadri said. 

From Zee News

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