O the delta region capacitor’s
Heart hath scap'd
This ship’s folly – the plasma crystal has
propos'd Eternity to you.
Love toward others causes beauty's rose
Appears to reverse the eye reverse the
Treasure warrior conduit matter inside
More a special power. Vaporizing.
I should do crystal
or form a polarity
Because the expanding
Hymns of power, and diagnostic core,
causes a special need.
O hyperspace end subject. The
Conduit seems to stop posterity
The long as long year set, because uprear
Burst my love toward others.
Fluctuations need love to.
Ideally to resync the weak in
A dream as thou simultaneously
Overload heaven's air in her matter
Her stream has been around the
Chaste life: but you plug the eye.
A few notes on process You don’t have to be a programmer to create computer-generated poetry. You just need to search around for text-generating software, and then appropriate it for poetry making. If a software developer creates a tool that generates text, and then provides open access to that tool, anyone can then use those tools to experiment with creating computer-generated poetry.
That’s what I did in order to create the poems above. I was asked to generate poems that were ‘poetic’ yet also had a ‘sci-fi’ or ‘high tech’ tone. Lacking time to create a new piece of software specifically for this task, I started searching around for tools that could assist me. The program I settled on was jGnoetry, an online tool I’ve used in the past. jGnoetry is a piece of software created by Edde Addad. It works by allowing the user to choose a bunch of texts, then from this corpora the software generates a new text, in poetic form, according to rules that select words sequentially based on syllable count.
For example, the default texts that jGnoetry uses are Shakespeare’s Sonnets, Tristan Tzara’s ‘To Make a Dadaist Poem’ and chapter 2 from Lawrence Lessig’s book, Free Culture. Let’s say I wanted to generate a quatrain using this corpora, I would get something like this:
For that leaves, hast today to all these thoughts
And death do write the article of thee,
There's no cause. Ah! Love's best, and yet, and
There is thine history is impannelled. My task, however, was to generate poems that were poetic yet sci-fi. I decided to keep Shakespeare’s Sonnets as part of my corpora because, well, there’s nothing more recognisably ‘poetic’ than the language used in Shakespeare’s sonnets. Then I started looking for full text copies of pulpy sci-fi books to satisfy the sci-fi element. The problem with sci-fi novels, however, is that too much of the prose is just normal prose, with few mentions of typically sci-fi things, like ‘flux capacitors’ or whatever. The term given to this type of sci-fi jargon is technobabble. I wondered whether anyone had ever written a book entirely of technobabble. I searched for this, and didn’t find it. But what I did find, amazingly, was a technobabble generator. Created by Simo Virokannas, the technobabble generator has a stock of sci-fi sounding sentences, and generates them in long, ridiculous sounding paragraphs. For example:
There appears to be an enhanced delta region around the vortex which affects enhanced ripples inside the enhanced sensor array. Extending diagnostic, expanding energy. The temporal charges re-route the weak diagnostics within the areas. There seems to be a critical energy in the plasma which damages weak damage in the strange diagnostic.
This was perfect for my experiment. So I cut and pasted a bunch of these paragraphs and put them in my corpora at jGnoetry. Now I had the perfect mix of poetic and sci-fi language from which to generate poems. As I mentioned, jGnoetry lets you choose from a range of poetic forms. It also lets you customise the form yourself. In the experiments presented above I created my own customised form.
While I didn’t have to write any code to generate these poems, the process still required a very new approach to language – approaching it more as raw material, or building blocks, rather than as sincere emotional expression. If you’re interested in computer-generated poetry but don’t know anything about code, a good way of starting your inquiry is to use other people’s tools, and figure out how they work. If your interest persists, you will inevitably find yourself becoming interested in how the code behind the tool works. The field of computer-generated poetry, I think, encourages sharing and experimentation. So much of it is about using the tools others have made, and then adding, hacking, adjusting. It is collaborative the whole way through: a collaboration between developer, poet and computer.