Rena J. Mosteirin


Experiment 116 (Counterpath, 2021) is a creative deformance of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116 using automatic machine translation. The poems begin in their original Shakespearean English and are then moved to another language, then another, then perhaps a third, and then back to English. In this way, the poem moves, the poem lives; it is reincarnated, reproduced, misunderstood, and mistaken. The essay that concludes the book explores how our practices of reading, writing, and revision can benefit from the use of free online translation tools. Experiment 116 invites readers to imagine translation errors and variants appearing during this process as a bridge between languages, striking unintentional emotional chords and producing creative depictions of life, as potentially codified by multi-lingual readers. In so doing, it enables a fugitive relation to idioms and stages a confrontation with multiple languages that function as the resources by which poets create, through language, cultural bridges. Experiment 116 asks its reader to consider automated algorithmic language translation as a site for the birth of a poetics of a global refugee idiolect.

“Rena Mosterin’s Experiment 116 filters Shakespeare sonnet 116 through a network of translation, producing poignant, sharp, and dynamic iterations that reveal the syntactical and linguistic priorities of software and figure and that reminds us how translation is a conversation between languages, not end-product but process and contiguity. This book feels human and vulnerable, a text with alteration as its vital thrum.”
—Carmen Giménez Smith, author of Be Recorder
"Behind this beautiful trans-linguistic computer exploration of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116 lies an ambitious and fascinating project: that of finding in the idiolectic uniqueness of a migrant’s idiomatic errors the universality of language drifts.”
—Milton Läufer, author of A Noise Such as a Man Might Make
“In Experiment 116, Rena J. Mosteirin brings together two phenomena of displacement: refugees and mechanization. Could be grim, except that Mosteirin, the love child of two disparate languages and cultures, turns to the language of poetry to see what other love children might emerge. In this human tryst with a machine and Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116, creative and critical registers bind together and over one hundred languages meet, merge, and morph back into English. The result of this experiment? Wondrous images and lines that fit and mis-fit, that delight in ways that are strange, delectable, upsetting and beyond reason. Because that’s what happens with poetry and love.”
—Teresa Carmody, author of The Reconception of Marie

Mosteirin has designed and led several workshops based on the work used to create Experiment 116. For an abreviated version, see my guided prompt "Defamiliarized English" for the Isolation Journals (November 14, 2021).

Mosteirin has three poems in the Summer/Fall 2021 issue of The Southampton Review.

“You Will Know Us By Our Song” was published by The Rumpus in May 2020.

Moonbit (punctum books, 2019) is a hybrid work comprised of experimental poetry and a critical theory of the poetics and politics of computer code. It offers an extended intellectual and creative engagement with the affordances of computer software through multiple readings and re-writings of a singular text, the source code of the Apollo 11 Guidance Computer or the “AGC.” Moonbit re-marks and remixes the code that made space travel possible. Half of this book is erasure poetry that uses the AGC code as the source text, building on the premise that code can speak beyond its functional purpose.

half-fabulous whales (Little Dipper, 2019), a chapbook of erasure poetry that uses Moby-Dick as the source text published in a limited-edition letterpress edition and digital edition.

Rena J. Mosteirin’s poetic novella "Nick Trail's Thumb" (Kore Press, Tuscan, 2008) won The Kore Press Short Fiction Award, judged by Lydia Davis. Davis writes:

"What a fresh and engaging story Mosteirin has written--with its unusual setting, interesting form, arresting specifics, captivating insights, strong dialogue, and rhythmic prose. The writing and the vision alike are utterly persuasive."

You can buy "Nick Trail's Thumb" here at the Kore Press website or on Amazon.

The Common published "All Night in the Tuberculosis Room" on April 1, 2020.

"Katherine and Petruchio" appeared in Literary North's Constellation: Ekphrasis in April, 2020.

No Tokens published "The Encrypted Latina" on September 11, 2019

The Woven Tale Press awarded Mosteirin an Honorable Mention in their 2018 Awards and published four of her new poems here:

Mosteirin wrote about ghosts for White Heat.

Eduardo Corral selected Mosteirin's poem "Chango" for the Summer 2018 (Issue 42) issue of The Puritan.

The first stanza of Mosteirin's poem "Milkweed Coat" appears as the epigraph in Hannah Howard's memoir Feast. Read the full text of the poem here.

She teaches at Dartmouth College and is an editor at Bloodroot Literary Magazine.

Recent Engagements

Code + Culture
March 2024
Cameron University, Lawton, OK

Us & Them Reading Series
May 5, 2023
Molasses Books, Brooklyn, NY

Bloodroot Launch Party
April 19, 2023
Left Bank Books
Hanover, NH

The William Corbett Poetry Series at MIT
April 11, 2023
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA

Writers Reading
January 12, 2023
Bennington College, Bennington, VT

Bloodroot Reading
October 20, 2022
Howe Library, Hanover NH

Bloodroot Launch Party
May 20, 2022
Left Bank Books
Hanover, NH

Using Electricity: Literary Salon with Hannes Bajohr, Rena J. Mosteirin, and Nick Montfort
November 21, 2021
Room & Board. Williamsburg, NY

WordHack Online feat. Rena Mosteirin, Andy Wallace, Galen Macdonald and Hyperlink Press (Oct 21, 2021)

DMQ Review Virtual Salon
November 2021

Virtual Reading, Bennington Midwest Salon.
September 19, 2021

Estimate Reading Series.
August 23, 2021
New York, NY

Virtual Reading,
April 30, 2020
Hartland Poetry Fest 2020

Virtual Reading
April 26, 2020
Literary North X Still North

Ditmas Lit.
December 18, 2019
Hinterlands. 739 Church Ave. Brooklyn, NY

Bennington Writers.
December 17, 2019
KGB Bar. 85 E. 4th Street. New York, NY

Poetry & Pie
August 3, 2019
Sweetland Farm

No Tokens Issue #8 Launch Party
June 12, 2019
Books are Magic. 225 Smith Street. Brooklyn, NY

Lunation: A Good Fat Anthology of 114 Women Poets
March 8, 2019
South Church, Portsmouth, NH

Bloodroot Vol 11 LAUNCH PARTY
April 9, 2019
Left Bank Books, Hanover, NH

SIGCIS 2018: STORED IN MEMORY: The 10th Annual SIGCIS Conference
October 14, 2018,
St. Louis, Missouri, USA

Bloodroot Vol 10 LAUNCH PARTY
May 4, 2018
Left Bank Books, Hanover, NH

HaPoP 2018: Fourth Symposium on the History and Philosophy of Programming
March 23, 2018.
Mathematical Institute, University of Oxford, United Kingdom


Interviews with me

Interview with Literary North (October 15, 2021).
Rena Mosteirin ’05 Expands Her Literary Life" (Dartmouth News August 6, 2020).
Left Bank Books with Molly Papows for Junction Magazine

Me interviewing other writers


Rena J. Mosteirin owns Left Bank Books and teaches poetry at Dartmouth College in the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies program. She loves the formal language of poetry and sees many connections between the languages of computer programming and more traditional formal poetics. In learning to write programming code in Python (a computer language similar to Java and C++) Rena developed a software tool that helps poets create sestinas with a sort of end-word "map" and end-word "generator" the compliable code for this tool is itself a sestina. Check that out here.

Rena is using Twitter in an attempt to build a line-a-day relationship with the Great American Novel: Herman Melville's Moby-Dick. This project is estimated to take somewhere between twenty and thirty years, most likely outlasting the popularity of Twitter itself.

Rena J. Mosteirin is a graduate of Dartmouth College (AB) and the Writing Seminars at Bennington College (MFA). Mosteirin's father is from Cuba and her mother's family is from Gottschee, a region of Slovenia. She is married to James E. Dobson.

Contact Information
PO Box 375/ Hanover, NH/ 03755