• Author: John Tranter http://www.poetrylibrary.edu.au/poets/tranter-john
Issue Details: First known date: 1991 1991
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'BrekDown' is a text analysis and text generation program written in Turbo Pascal for IBM-compatible personal computers, devised in 1985 by the San Francisco programmer Neil J. Rubenking. 'Brekdown' can also blend the styles of two or more texts, and reconstruct a text with the characteristics of this blended style.

The article is accompanied by two examples of this 'robot poetry' - 'What Mortal End' and 'Her Shy Banjo' derived from the works of Matthew Arnold and John Ashbery respectively. Both the titles of these poems and the names of their authors are anagrams of the real poets' names. John Tranter has also written seven prose pieces using this technique, in each case blending two writers into one new creature. They appear in Different Hands (1998).


  • Correct spelling is 'Brekdown'.

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

Alternative title: Mr. Rubenking's 'Breakdown'[sic] : The Utilisation of Digital Computers in the Deconstruction and Reconstruction of Writing
  • Appears in:
    y Meanjin vol. 50 no. 4 Summer 1991 Z633452 1991 periodical issue 1991 pg. 635-638
  • Appears in:
    y Jacket no. 4 July 1998 Z893990 1998 periodical issue 1998
    Note: With alternative title.
Last amended 14 Oct 2002
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