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Perl Poetry Contest

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Sharon Hopkins

Jul 26, 1991, 1:27:57 PM7/26/91

Announcing: The First-Ever Semi-International Perl Poetry Competition!


1. All entries must be e-mailed to me,,
by August 26, 1991: That means, when I check my mail that morning,
the last entries ought to have already arrived. (I will probably
extend the closing date if anyone can convince me they're going to
have something ready to submit 'Real Soon' after closing.) The words
"Perl Poetry Contest" should appear in the Subject line.

2. All entries must be poems: I, and anyone else I can con into helping
me, will be the arbiter(s) and judge(s) of what is and isn't "poetry".
I expect my definition to be fairly loose, this form being pretty darn
restrictive already.

3. All entries must also be perl programs: This means they shouldn't
return any syntax errors, warnings, core dumps, etc. that aren't
specifically intended to enhance the poetic content of the program.
Poems consisting entirely of commented lines will be rejected from
the contest and posted to rec.arts.poems. Other sneaky ways of
making perl parse poetry will be considered on an individual basis.

4. Previously posted poems (that is, poems posted to comp.lang.perl
before July 26, 1991), and all poems by me, are disqualified. Extra
brownie points will be awarded to writers who have not previously
demonstrated poetic ability in perl. If necessary, I will award one
prize for 'Best Poem by a New Perl Poet' and one for 'Best Poem by
an Old Perl Poem Hacker'. (If there weren't any prizes, I wouldn't
make so many rules. :-)

5. If I get enough submissions, there will be separate categories for:
a) perl programs that do useful work, and b) perl programs that parse
but do nothing. Other things I will look for: vocabulary (quantity
and/or usage of reserved words), format (does form enhance content),
clarity (whether non-programmers can read it), and cleverness (both
English* and perl cleverness are taken into account).


1. Since I don't have anything later than 4.003 (I think), submissions
running under 4.003 or 3.44 are preferred. If a later (or earlier)
version of perl is required, please warn me. It will make my life
slightly easier if you stick a #!/usr/bin/perl line in for perl 3.44
or #!/usr/local/src/perl4.003/perl for perl 4.003.

2. There are no specific length requirements, but if your poem is too
long to fit comfortably into the disk partition I live in, or if it
uses enough memory to crash the machine I run on, I will probably
disqualify it out of spite (unless it's really good). Ditto for
poems that delete files unnecessarily, rewrite my .newsrc, etc.


1. Unless he submits something, I will attempt to get Larry to help me
with the judging. I have a couple of non-programming friends with
Lit. degrees who can be persuaded to help me judge poetic merit, and
I expect to acquire additional help in judging hackerly qualities.

2. (See Rule #5 (above), everything after "Other things I will look for".)

*3. Non-English perl poetry will not be rejected, but is not expected.
If you submit a perl poem that parses both in perl and in a language
other than English, you will probably get some extra points. (If I
can find someone to translate for me.)


1. I don't know yet what the prize(s) will be, but I think contests are
more fun when there's a prize.

2. The reason this contest is only "Semi-International" is that I doubt
if I can afford overseas postage for prize delivery. We'll see.

Sharon Hopkins, July 26, 1991

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