Christian Bök writes conceptual poetry too!

No, it’s not a deja vu; I’ve seen Christian Bök’s name has come up several times when investigating sound poetry. Along with writing sound poetry, Christian Bök experiments with conceptual (or procedural) poetry as well. What is conceptual poetry? Conceptual poetry is machine-like poetry that is usually an organized body of information. After reading his crossword-like poem called “Saphire,” it became obvious to me that Christian Bök must have had some sort of scientific background, which he does;  He tutored for algebra, calculus, chemistry, and biochemistry while earning his PhD in English. Aside from his book “Euonia,” he is exploring the ways in which human DNA can carry the spirit of poetry (both metaphorically and literally) in his widely famous project “Xenotext.” In an interview with Sachiko Murakami, Christian describes the project by saying  “I plan to integrate my encoded text into the genetic code of the cell so that, during transcription, the RNA in the cell might translate my string of codons into the required commands for manufacturing a correspondent series of amino acids.” Christian plans to “create chemical messages” by developing a chemical alphabet. From amino acids to protein, Christian will virtually turn a sequence of DNA into a page of a book. Literally bringing the poetry alive, the Xenotext experiment has been in progress for nine years. What I found most interesting was how he came up with the idea of living poetry; The Xenotext was the result of the forty-five year old’s desire to write a short poem based language and genetics.



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