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Games, Diversions & Perl Culture by Jon Orwant

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Chapter 39. The Perl Poetry Contest

Jon Orwant

Kevin Meltzer

Editor’s note: Jon wrote the contest announcement, and Kevin wrote the contest results.

Many Perl programmers are linguistically adept; the expressivity and flow of our language attracts people who enjoy the written word. Perl programmers also tend to have a lot of free time from getting their jobs done so quickly, and so it’s natural that they sometimes blend Perl and wordplay. One common manifestation of this whimsy is Perl poetry: a poem that also happens to be a functioning program.

Our Obfuscated Perl Contest is ugly and evil. We know this, and revel in it. To compensate for encouraging these most unpoetic programs, we hereby present our first Perl Poetry Contest, to be judged by Perl poet Kevin Meltzer. This is a chance to show the world just how beautiful Perl can be.

Perl Poetry has been around for a decade; on April Fool’s Day 1990, someone forged a Usenet posting in Larry Wall’s name with four Perl poems. Sharon Hopkins, a longtime friend of Larry Wall and the Official Perl Poet, presented “Camels and Needles: Computer Poetry Meets the Perl Programming Language” at the Usenix Winter 1992 Technical Conference. One of Sharon’s poems, listen, has even been published in the Economist and the Guardian.

More recently, this arrived in my inbox:

#!/usr/bin/perl # # asylum.pl # by Harl close (youreyes); bind (yourself, fast); while ($narcosis) { exists $to($calm); not calm; } accept the, anesthesia; seek the, $granted, $asylum ...

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