English leaf and Latin liber “book” are etymologically cognate, deriving ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *lewbʰ– “to cut off,” while the word page—which comes to English from Latin via French—derives from *peh₂ǵ– “to attach.” The word book itself derives from the word for the beech tree, whose bark was peeled off to make a surface for writing. Etymologically, then, a book is a superposition of what can be separated and what comes to be stuck together; a book is (to paraphrase Quine) undetached book parts. Or as Robert Frost might put it, a book is “dead leaves stuck together”—leaves that steps have trodden black.

—Allison Parrish

Allison is a computer programmer, poet, educator and game designer whose teaching and practice address the unusual phenomena that blossom when language and computers meet, with a focus on artificial intelligence and computational creativity. She is a Teacher at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program, where she earned her master’s degree in 2008. Her first full-length book of computer-generated poetry, Articulations, was published by Counterpath in 2018.