I’d been noodling around with attempts to incorporate regular expressions into my poetry for quite a few years when I was approached by Andrew Rippeon of P-Queue to contribute a piece to their 2008 issue, and after briefly considering a few other topics to write about, I decided to go with Regular Expressions as a System of Poetic Notation because my own thoughts on it were more scattered and unfocused than I wanted them to be; I welcomed the opportunity to think through many of the aspects I’d only intuited and to see if all of my notions would hang together as a coherent whole.
When I showed late drafts of the essay to a few people who I thought might be interested in this particular junction of code and poetry the responses were encouraging enough that I thought it best to put my bandwidth where my mouth was and create a space where anyone who is writing poetry that incorporates regular expressions, or, is writing about poetry that incorporates regular expressions can have their work published.
What I didn’t want to do was put the essay out there and have people read it and think “Huh, that’s neat,” and then forget about it. I wanted to be able to close the essay with a call to action, to invite people, while the ideas were fresh in their minds, to write with the new tools and then to submit those writings somewhere (here!) so that others who read the essay could see further examples in action and hopefully be spurred on by those examples to further the research.
If you have poems that use regular expressions, or prose about the poetics of regular expression use, please send them my way (regex at logolalia dot com), I’d love to read them and consider them for publication here.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Andrew Rippeon of P-Queue for giving me the opportunity to lash together a whole bale of ideas that had been flailing around loose in my brain.
Thanks are also due to Marko Niemi for the term defining the movement as “regular expressionism”.