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Saturday, April 6, 2013

Haiku-bot writes "haiku" at NYT

images of New York Times newspapers
Ok, everybody, repeat after me: just because it's written in seventeen syllables 5-7-5 doesn't make it a haiku.
But, the New York Times "senior software architect" Jacob Harris just wrote a software bot that trolls through the NYT, and extracts 5-7-5 syllable fragments-- "The New York Times has built a haiku bot," as Justin Ellis phrases it.
OK, you know my fascination with auto-poetry.  Few of these really rate as actual haiku. Still, here's one:

The buzzing of a
thousand bees in the tiny
curled pearl of an ear.

--well, that one's unfair.  It's from the book review of Kate Atkinson's novel Life After Life, and the part that the haiku-bot found and chose to extract for the haiku is a section that is quoting a passage from the novel.  So, as a novelist, Atkinson has quite a poetic ear.  Bravo, but no kudos for Mr. haiku-bot.

So, no, not really haiku.  Even the author, Harris, admits as much:
"...That's a lot harder to teach an algorithm, though, so we just count syllables like most amateur haiku aficionados do."

A few might be called relatively pretty decent senryu, though:

or,  more sinister:

or even insightful:

I guess the haiku-bot a bit better at writing senryu than haiku.

But, looks like robots are starting to take over the business of writing poetry for us, and pretty soon we'll be out of a job.  I guess all that's left for us humans is to watch youtoobs and check out teh lolcats.  So, with that thought: have a happy National Poetry month, everybody!

4 comments:

Geoffrey A. Landis said...


Robots write haiku:
but never in the daytime:
They do it at NYT.

Geoffrey A. Landis said...

Yow, is EVERYBODY writing robots that troll internet feed to find poems? Here's a poetry-writing twitter-bot:
www.npr.org/2013/02/16/172031066/pentametron-reveals-unintended-poetry-of-twitter-users

Geoffrey A. Landis said...

Discussing this on a different mailing list, a couple of people remarked is that what the haikubot is actually doing is clipping out bits of "found poetry" (my comment was "Any poetic content is provided by the reader.") Somebody pointed me to The Found Poetry Review: http://www.foundpoetryreview.com/

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