[-empyre-] Week Two:The Practice of Poetry: Roboticist, Scholar, and Programmer Poets

Margaret J Rhee mrhee at uoregon.edu
Tue May 9 05:27:15 AEST 2017

Bridging from an exciting first week of conversation by Susan 
Vanderborg, Sean Pessin, Mike Widner, and Sunny Xiang, Week Two features 
a discussion on hybrid roles of roboticist, scholar, and programmer 
poets. Our participants this week, Dmitry Berenson, Neil Aitken, and 
Tung Hui-Hu greatly inspired my experiments in robot love poetry, and 
poetic practice through their own poetry, research, and hybrid roles.

More specifically, the poems from my chapbook collection Radio Heart, or 
How Robot Fall Out of Love, emerged from a fruitful conversation about 
poetry with Dmitry, when Dmitry was a postdoctoral fellow in robotics, 
and I was a graduate student completing a dissertation on race and 
robots at UC Berkeley. We were both also studying with new media artist 
and roboticist Ken Goldberg, and we discovered we were both poets, and 
learning that Dmitry also wrote poetry, while working as a roboticist, 
helped provide permission to begin writing about robots poetically as 
well. Hui Hui, is also an alumn from BCNM, although we met after his 
graduation and his postdoc at Stanford when reaching his current 
monograph, A History of the Cloud. His work as a poet, and scholar in 
new media helped also make my work as a scholar and poet possible. In 
particular, Hui Hui's poetry inspired a food and love poetry workshop I 
taught: "The Wish Answered" 

(along with a homemade recipe of apricot biscotti)

Neil Aitken, is a long time friend, collaborator, and inspiring poet. 
His recent collection Babbage's Dreams, mentioned by Mike in the 
previous week, is a wonderful poetry collection about the history and 
personal life of Charles Babbage. Neil and I first met at Kundiman, the 
Asian American poetry retreat, and co-convened Machine Dreams, a 
symposium in 2015 at UCLA. Neil was formerly a programmer, who began to 
write poetry, and was greatly inspiring in our robot and machine

For this week, I hoped our conversation could explore some of the 
fruitful ways hybrid roles can inform our poetry and poetic practice, 
along with the challenges. Topics can include poetry writing, 
cross-genre work, community, publishing, and transgressions.


Week 2: May 8 - The Practice of Poetry: Roboticist, Scholar, and 
Programmer Poets

Dmitry Berenson (US) Neil Aitken (US) Tung Hui-Hu (US)

Dmitry Berenson

Bio: Dmitry Berenson (US) is an Assistant Professor in Robotics 
Institute and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department at 
University of Michigan, where his research focuses on motion planning, 
robot manipulation, and human-robot collaboration. Previously, he 
obtained a PhD in Robotics from Carnegie Mellon University and was a 
post-doc at UC Berkeley. His poetry has appeared in The Worcester 
Review, Poet Lore, MiPOesias, and the anthologies Don’t Blame the Ugly 
Mug, and Best Indie Lit New England (BILiNE). He won the Worcester Mega 
Poetry Slam in 2014.

Neil Aitken

Neil Aitken (US) is the author of two books of poetry, Babbage’s Dream 
(Sundress, 2017) and  The Lost Country of Sight (Anhinga 2008), which 
won the Philip Levine Prize. A former computer games programmer and a 
past Kundiman poetry fellow, he holds an MFA in Creative Writing from UC 
Riverside, and earned a Ph.D. in Literature & Creative Writing from USC, 
where his dissertation examined the conceptualization and representation 
of artificial intelligence in the 19th century. His poetry has been 
published in the Adroit Journal, American Literary Review, The 
Collagist, Southern Poetry Review, and numerous anthologies.

Tung Hui Hu

Poet and media scholar Tung-Hui Hu (US) is the author of three books
of poetry, The Book of Motion (2003), Mine (2007), and Greenhouses,
Lighthouses (Copper Canyon Press, 2013), as well as a study of digital
culture, A Prehistory of the Cloud (MIT Press, 2015). His poems have
appeared in places such as Boston Review, The New Republic,
Ploughshares, and the anthology Family Resemblance: An Anthology and
Exploration of Hybrid Literary Genres. Hu teaches at the University of
Michigan, where he is an assistant professor of English.
Margaret Rhee, Ph.D.

Visiting Assistant Professor
Women's and Gender Studies
University of Oregon

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