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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Auto poetry

Writing poetry is hard!
[1] Fortunately, in this ever-changing world in which we live in [2], computers can do it for you!

If you want to kickstart a poem and don't know what you want to write about, check out "the original poets online random line generator". Or try this line generator.

Prefer your poetry rhymed? Once you have that first line, Pangloss will write a quatrain for you with his Rhyme generator. Check out this baby-- I just wrote it:

testing the rhyme generator
the blue babboon eats lemons on a daily basis
Gleam the wisdom of our ancestors...
Reality is a staircase leading nowhere.

Well, maybe that one isn't quite ready to send to Poetry-- needs a bit of polish, but there's something there I can work with.

If rhyme doesn't do it for you, and you'd like something a little more freeform, Pangloss's site will put together a beatnik ramble for you. Or if you want a bit more edge, let it write based on Howl.

If that rambles too much, why not borrow some lines from earlier (public domain) poems? Angie McKlaig's poem generator will help you do that. Or poem of quotes

Of course, I'm not really suggesting that you start using the computer-soup as a method of writing serious poetry. While you sometimes do get something amusing, at best it's more in the line of poetry so bad it's good, not anything that comes within a country mile of what you'd think about calling good. It's more like Vogon poetry [3], really. But how about as a source of inspiration?

"Language-is-a-virus's" [4] site will generate a poem for you, too. And if you want to see the nuts and bolts of poem generation ("interjection, abstract noun!/ the concrete noun transitive verbs like an adjective concrete noun."), Thinkzone's poem generator shows you that it's little more than Mad-libs (You can even, if you like, change the pattern, and add or subtract from the list of words.)

Try it out-- let me know what you find!

And if you get something good, post it here.

I can only end by telling you "Beneath the surface of discord the poets speak."
Whatever that means.


Footnotes:
[1] cf. Teen-talk Barbie, 1994
[2] Paul McCartney has claimed that the line he wrote was "in this ever-changing world in which we're living"... but it doesn't sound like it to me. He should learn to enunciate!
[3] "Vogon poetry is widely accepted as the third-worst poetry in the universe." -- Douglas Adams
[4] "Language is a virus from outer space." --William S. Burroughs

10 comments:

J.E. Stanley said...

Dig this Daddio:
Pangloss’s beatnik ramble on the phrase "river blues:"

that elephant blues river shelter and time Twas wine. starts
my, I'm grin Vapors placed as feeble this take to said in youah
chosen, make ears, a for of my point-proper with eternally The how an
yet darkness, I he little errupted best And sick, When none itch
shot high the we day cream the to thirteen halt listen diction
ancient 'cause to We come the simply, on fury they I can be the god you never knew.


And my own 20-minute rewrite of it, for better or worse:

River Blues

Time flows in rivers of green and blue.
We take shelter on its still banks
with cigarettes and wine,
grin under the vapor trails of passing jets,
feel somehow chosen for this one proper point,
fixed in eternity until darkness comes

and I erupt within you
under thirteen shooting stars
that streak high above
like flaming arrows released by Diana,
ancient goddess of the moon,
in the simple fury of her hunt.

Geoffrey A. Landis said...

Say, the ramble version is a little, uh, rambling, but I really like your "River Blues" version.

Here's my try at auto poetry, trying to complete a rhyme from the starting couplet "They met at the Bamboo Room/there's no bamboo there, but plenty":

They met at the Bamboo Room
there's no bamboo there, but plenty
Tonight I'll careen by on a trike, zoom zoom
the most stylish transvestive in any county

Andrew said...

Another great site is Poegles.com You Google-search a phrase, and then assemble you poem from the first page of results. It allows for more personal movement, but still within a limited set.

Shelley Chernin said...

Wow. Love the generated rhymes for the Bamboo Room couplet! Thanks. The complete disconnect between the original couplet and the generated couplet are charmingly silly.

Which raises the problem with these generators -- they're incapable of considering meaning. Maybe someday. Meanwhile, it takes a human to make something meaningful from the generated words -- like Jim has done with "River Blues" (Cool!), or like Poegles.

I've been working on a completely different take on the "river blues" stream of gibberish. I'll post it here if I end up with anything close to satisfying.

I also wanted to mention a related website, Darwinian Poetry. Generated "poetry" with a purpose, it's an attempt to see whether generated nonsense words will evolve into meaningful poetry by a sort of natural selection.

Visitors to the website are given 2 poems to read and asked to click on the one they like best. Selected poems are spliced together with other selected poems. Disfavored poems die.

Shelley Chernin said...

(I fell in love with the line about god.)

River Blues - Take 2

He came on a fury of grin vapors
when time was wine, space cream,
and he chose shelter in an ancient
diction. I can be the god
you never knew, the how and why
in your darkness
. Elephant fiction

written in acid dreams at knife-point –
proper names changed in odd ways
to protect the sick and feeble. Eternal
listeners, I will make you ears
. Big plans,
little starts and halts. Bits of lobe itched
at our ingates until all thirteen fears

erupted our drums. Stunned and blown,
we shot him high into the blue river.

Shelley Chernin said...

A rewrite:

Gonzo Canon

He came on a fury of grin vapors
when time was wine, space cream,
and he chose shelter in an ancient
diction. I can be the god
you never knew, the how and why
in your darkness
. Elephant fiction

written in acid dreams at knife-point –
proper names changed in odd ways
to protect the sick and feeble. Eternal
listeners, I will make you ears
. Big plans,
little starts and halts. Bits of lobe itched
our head holes until The Thirteen Fears

erupted. I bleed at every pore. Stunned,
we shot him high into the blue river.

J.E. Stanley said...

"Written in acid dreams at knife-point:"

Hi Shelley,

Amazing poem – start to finish! You made the ramble into something really unique, simultaneously witty and profound.

As far as the changes (even though my spell checker disagrees) I prefer "at our ingates" to "our head holes." On the other hand, changing "all thirteen fears" to "The Thirteen Fears" and having the "would-be god" character say "I bleed at every pore." is pure genius.

Great job!

Jim

Shelley Chernin said...

Thanks much for the kind words and suggestions, Jim. I think together we've proven Geoff's point that poem generator's can provide inspiration.

If anyone else has comments on my poem, please feel free to workshop the hell out of it. I'd truly appreciate it because it certainly has weak spots. Perhaps one of the dangers of using generated words, at least for me, is that I get stuck trying to cleverly incorporate as much of the generated poem as I can.

Anyway, I'd happily submit the poem for Blind Review, but too late for blindness. That's fine. I'm not sensitive about my words (other stuff, sure). I highly value openness and honesty. Negative comments are as welcome as positive.

Geoffrey A. Landis said...

I confess myself amazed at how well your poems came out. The secret, of course, is that the computerized word-salad is merely the spark, not the engine-- it's the poet's skill and ability to weave together disparate images that, in the end, make the poems work.

Runechris said...

I've tried those in the past for fun.. and all I got were things that made me laugh so hard that I fell off my chair. I've never considered using them for starting a serious poem..

I might try it sometime again to see if I get a better result.

Cited...

The poet doesn't invent. He listens. ~Jean Cocteau