I’m not a coder, and I’m not a programmer. I’m an end user. But ever since I began playing with html and especially since I started doing this Movable Type stuff, I’ve been been fascinated by the physical, typographical beauties of code.
Look (here), for instance. These are the seven default style sheets for Movable Type pages. (2019 note: This post originally appeared on my MT blog; dead link.)
Look at how the lines are arranged, the crisp, indented paragraphs. Gorgeous. How would my decisions about a poem’s content change if composed to look like a stylesheet? The demands for symmetry would certainly make things feel different.
There is a lively tradition in which such ideas are explored. I would call it aleatoric poetry, but it currently goes by several different names, including electronic and post-avant. They are descendents of the cut-up, and friends to OuLiPo, daring to play seriously rather than playfully scowl. These practioners take it all much further than I would, but then, I’m always content to splash around in the shallows and shoals.
In the meantime, I’m working on my first ghazal. It feels like writing an old folk song with a heavy refrain. Nothing special yet. I’ll throw it on the page when I think it’s in a condition to be gawked at.