Jackson Mac Low

Thinking of a computer program to write Zen poems reminded me of a meeting with an eccentric poet at the Naropa Institute almost 20 years ago. Β An older man joined me at breakfast, asked if I was a poet, and then asked how I wrote poems. I described how I developed ideas to which he responded, “I do something different. I wrote a computer program that takes words and phrases from Ezra Pound’s Cantos and combines them into new text. I have a book called Words nd Ends with Ez.”

Of course, that poet was Jackson Mac Low. Even though I didn’t buy his book, I’m glad someone could devote his life to making such goofiness real.


3 thoughts on “Jackson Mac Low”

  1. LMAO. Back in the spring, I had lunch with a couple of friends who are NOT poetry afficionados. I mentioned that I dabble in writing poetry, which had them falling off their chairs. One of them, a software programmer, boasted that he could write an program that could convincingly generate modern verse: a random poem generator. Then he googled to see if anyone has already coded the beast, and sure ‘nuf it’s out there: http://thinkzone.wlonk.com/PoemGen/PoemGen.htm


    His next idea was to code said program to compose verse in the style of a famous poet… That had ME falling off my chair, with tears streaming down my face! πŸ˜€

      1. That would generate uber-koan random verse! That would be so much fun to create and distribute, perhaps as a smart phone app!?

        BTW – my friend Marc (like you, a PhD physicist BTW), on a dare from me, wrote a full python script to automate the HTML tagging of verses in MS Word…within 20 min…on his napkin! You’ll be tickled to learn that Dan and I used that very same script to batch process your poetry collection from MS Word to XHTML. The only stumbling blocks were some pesky non-Ascii quotation marks, which kept stalling the conversion process. LOL

        So…when do you want to start encoding the little random koan generator? I’ll bet we can get my friend Marc and his fiance, my cousin Vickie (another PhD physicist) to help. πŸ˜‰

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