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code words class logo, illegible text shapes in the background chairs and tables outside the sfpc space sfpc students eating lunch in the courtyard by sfpc sfpc code poetry wall art with polaroids of sfpc participants four sfpc students working on laptops during goldenhour lighting sfpc students studying at laptops while example codes are projected behind notes about coordinate system and programming

Call for Students: Code Words

  • One-Week Session, Sunday July 29 - Friday August 3, 2018
  • @ SFPC, 155 Bank Street, West Village, NYC
  • July 29, Brunch and kick off, 1~5pm
  • July 30 - August 3, 6:30pm - 9:30pm, Evening Classes

Applications have closed

SFPC’s Summer Intensive, Code Words is a one-week session in which we explore how computation relates to language and art, focusing on literary art and poetry. Although “words” is in the title of session, we also embrace work that is made of glyphs that don’t form words.

We’ll spend the week making short computational pieces and sharing them (however is appropriate for each particular project) day by day. A subset of students will present work each day, based on who signs up, with priority given to those who have not yet presented; everyone will present on the last day.

A short review of/introduction to the essentials of programming with text in Python begins the course on Sunday. Five different teachers with different backgrounds and approaches lead the group in writing exercises and participate the following day, discussing student work that is done or refined between one class and the next and that was prompted by their teaching the day before. An informal dinner at the end provides an opportunity for everyone to present work developed during the week.

Students are not required to have any particular programming background. Everyone should be ready to press ahead with exploration either by writing programs from scratch or by studying, understanding, and modifying short programs. The emphasis in this session is on writing or modifying short, free/libre/open source programs, not on mashing up other people’s large-scale projects that are difficult to understand or relying, for the logic of our systems, on opaque corporate APIs. We encourage this focus on small-scale systems to help us make some progress in a single week, and to allow everyone in class to think together about the projects being done. It’s fine, and expected, that students will undertake projects that engage with writing, language, literature, art, and computing in very unusual ways. There are no limits on themes, subjects, forms, programming languages, or platforms.

The main outcome will be experience with literary arts, with other ways that language connects to art, and with computing. Beyond that, students should expect to develop several short draft or sketch pieces (perhaps ones that can be screened, exhibited on screens, experienced online, or read aloud) that could serve as the basis for future artistic practice using language.

Code Words Blog

Who are the teachers?

  • Nick Montfort. (1 Class + critique, lead organizer) - Nick programs computational poetry and other types of creative computing, from very small Commodore 64 BASIC and assembly pieces to computer-generated books. His practices involve constrained writing, collaboration, concrete poetry, and certain other conceptualisms. His books of poetry include The Truelist (Counterpath); Sliders (Bad Quarto); Autopia (Troll Thread); with collaborators, 2x6 (Les Figues); #! (Counterpath), and Riddle & Bind (Spineless Books). He has done more than fifty digital projects including The Deletionist (with Amaranth Borsuk and Jesper Juul), Sea and Spar Between (with Stephanie Strickland), and Taroko Gorge. Nick edits the Counterpath series of computer-generated books Using Electricity. He has taught at SFPC three times before, is professor of digital media at MIT, and lives in New York and Boston.

  • Lillian-Yvonne Bertram. (1 Class + critique) - Lillian is a poet, also working in visual media, whose work concerns the malleability of language and forms. She teaches in the MFA creative writing program at UMass Boston.

  • Milton Läufer. (1 Class + critique) - Milton develops text generators, ranging from small-scale programs through two novel generators, one that generates Spanish novels and one that works in English. He is from Argentina and earned an MFA at NYU.

  • Stephanie Strickland. (1 Class + critique) - Stephanie is a poet who works in and across print and electronic literature, frequently in collaboration. Her publications include eight print books of poetry, some of them directly connected to digital projects.

  • Everest Pipkin (1 Class) - Everest is a drawing, language and software artist whose work follows landscape as complicated by the advent of digital space. They produce intimate work with large data sets.

  • Todd Anderson. (TA) Todd undertakes type of performance writing he has developed and named “hotwriting.” An alumnus of Brown’s literary arts MFA program as well as SFPC, Todd organizes the reading series WordHack at Babycastles and teaches at the New School.

Code words poster

What will happen in one week?

The session will kick off with a group brunch on Sunday 1-5pm. Classes are held in the evenings Monday-Friday from 6:30-9:30pm. SFPC space will be open for students on weekdays between 1pm-6pm.

Students will have full access to the space for the week of the session to work on projects between classes and mentors will be readily available for technical, conceptual, and artistic guidance.

How do I apply?

Applications have closed. We accept up to 15 students on a rolling basis. We will respond to your application within 3 weeks of submission. Rolling admissions means there are fewer and fewer slots the longer you wait, so if you’re interested in the program get your application in early!

How competitive is the admissions process?

SFPC admissions is highly competitive. We expect to receive as many as 80 applicants for 15 slots. We focus on creating diversity among our student body. We work with a group of alumni and teachers to review and select students based on their work samples and essays.

How much is tuition?

$1000 USD for the One-Week program. You’ll also need to cover your own cost of living, including housing and meals. Upon acceptance, payment of full tuition, your space in the class will be reserved. SFPC tuition goes directly to paying for the teachers, organizers, materials and space that make sessions like this possible.

Do you offer scholarships?

We are completely self-funded, which dramatically limits our ability to offer scholarships. In Code Words, we are offering one work-study opportunity to a qualified applicant who would be expected to work 5 hrs/week in exchange for a 50% reduction of tuition. We’re particularly looking out for women, people of color, people with disabilities, people under-represented in the field of art + technology, and those with financial need.

Please note that if you apply for work study, we will consider your application separately from the general admissions applications, since we have little flexibility regarding scholarships. This is for people who absolutely need assistance to participate in SFPC. Occasionally, students have received support from cultural foundations, schools or current employers and we are happy to provide supporting materials as proof of acceptance.

Cancellation and refund policy

  • 50% refund between June 1 – July 15, 2018.
  • 25% refund between June 15 – July 28, 2018.
  • No refunds can be given after the first day of class.
  • Participation is not transferrable to another person.

What is expected of me?

  • Come to all classes and thoughtfully engage with your classmates and teachers.
  • We are looking for autodidacts from all backgrounds who are curious, generous and open.
  • We welcome students with a broad array of technical experiences–no coding experience is required, but a basic comfort level with technology is preferred.
  • B.Y.O.Laptop (Mac / PC / Linux)

Where is SFPC?

We are located at 155 Bank Street, in the courtyard of the Westbeth Artists’ Community in Manhattan’s West Village, New York City.

Contact Us

Feel free to contact Code Societies lead organizer Nick Montfort ( with any questions about the Code Words session, or the session advisor Taeyoon Choi. ( for any general questions about the school.

Image credits: Nick Montfort, SFPC

SFPC is filled with amazing people and an open mindset to learning, and doing. It has taught me different ways of thinking, ones that I would be sure to bring back to my endeavors outside of the art world.

Ying Quan Tan

I'm half way through the program and I'm already missing being here. SFPC was a much needed breath of fresh air in my hectic creative existence, an unlikely place to stop and remind myself what was it I was into in the first place.

Fernando Ramallo

SFPC messed up my life a little bit. Actually, I think it's going to mess it up a lot. Before this program I thought I knew what I was doing and what the shape of my life was going to look like. Now I don't and each day I wake up scared I won't get to be a part of a community like this again. Everyday also now brings a fresh but welcome creative terror to overcome. Also I think I may have ended up moving to New York accidentally.

Amit Runchal

SFPC is the best place you can explore your interest as much as you want and the place you start to write your own poem.

Yosuke Sakai

SFPC is not really a school or a course — it is more like a door into an extraordinary world. It is driven by passion, kindness and the thrill of teaching and learning. I would love to live those inspiring weeks all over again.

Jesse Wolpert

SFPC was amazing — life-changing even — i want to do all this stuff for the rest of my life!

Rachel Uwa

I've never been consistently surprised and inspired as much as at SFPC.

Jonathan Dahan

If you think SFPC is what you think, that will be wrong. SFPC is a space for a group of people who badly want to try something new. SFPC will become a spirit embedded in your blood which makes you think things with a different angle, just like its motto: more poetry, less demo.

Paul Cheng

I learned a lot at SFPC. It was only a 2 week program last time, but I learned many things from other participants and got the chance to explore and fail freely. SFPC helped me to reshape the way I think. It's your turn.

Hyojung Seo

School For Poetic Computation is equal parts The Factory, childhood blanket fort, and mad scientist's lab. I learned a ton from the teachers and the whole SFPC community in a huge collaborative and exploratory environment.

Lee Tusman

Attending SFPC is like walking into an all day buffet supplied with food from hyper-talented chefs. There's more than you could ever consume, naturally, and you will most likely find yourself requiring a digestion period, but holy crap is it tasty.

Daniel Wilson

My takeaway from SFPC: Never settle for code that isn't at least a little bit magic

Nathan Rosenberg

In SFPC I found a great community and it gave me the confidence to take on coding projects I couldn't have done before.

Scott Leinweber

SFPC is the purest, most honest exchange of knowledge and experience among peers I have ever experienced. It is a supportive space where everyone learns from everyone, and bridges are built that continue to be strengthened for years to come. You won’t get a certificate or a title at the end of it, but I would be amazed if you ever looked at your world the same again. I haven’t.

Ramsey Nasser