Submit Your Poems
Get Your Premium Membership

Roy Jerden's Blog

About Roy Jerden
(Show Details...)
Bloggers Photo

Cyborg Poetry?

Blog Posted:1/20/2014 5:04:00 PM
This week I was looking at an interesting web page done by Charles Bernstein, a pretty well known poet and literary professor. It was a set of experiments, presumably used in poetry classes. What caught my eye eventually were some of the links to text transformation engines, some of which he himself wrote some articles about and experimented with. These included language-to-language translation engines, text replacement engines using a text file and selection of transformation criteria as input and which then outputs replacement text, an engine which transformed text into different dialects- Cockney, Elmer Fudd, etc., a Jabberwocky engine, and so forth. I became interested and also found other engines which generated iambic pentameter, Shakespearean sonnets, and entire poems.

I'm going to discuss a few of these and provide links. Then I want to discuss the use of these engines as tools to generate poetic-like text, which could be used as an aid in the creation of a poem, if not the creation of an entire poem. Hopefully, you will also take a look.

Last, I want to discuss the legitimacy of publishing a poem based on the aid of these engines, which I hope will generate some interesting discussion.

This page is a list of poetic exercises. It contains links to some of the transformation engines as well as an interesting Poem Profiler page. Some of the exercises are pretty cool, too. 

Want to translate your poem to a dialect (more or less)? Paste in the text, choose a dialect, and generate. Pretty funny results, and like the other engines to be discussed, will likely require manual tweaking. I might have used the Redneck dialectizer in a recent poem if I had known about this engine, as I spent quite a bit of time going back and tweaking.

Language translator:
I used the Bing translator as Babelfish has been replaced by it. Google is also good. I translated a poem of mine into Italian, in which it looked not very poetic at all, then translated the results back into English. Interestingly enough, it translated back pretty well. In fact I liked some of the re-translated wording better than the way I had originally written it.

Text substitution:
This engine replaces every noun in the text with the 7th one following it in the dictionary. It actually outputs 7th word through 15th word versions. You can get some quite intriguing results with it, as it will generate poetic sounding juxtapositions of unusual words, often however, without semantic context. Those of you who enjoy this kind of tripe will likely love it. See my previous blog “When Wordplay Approaches Jabberwocky” for more grumbling, or better read Mark Twain's “Life on the Mississippi” for his invective.

Language is a Virus:
This is actually a complete site with all kinds of text manipulation tools. I tried out this one:

Shakespearean Sonnet Generator:
It just basically pulls random lines from Shakespeare's sonnets and combines them to form a “new” sonnet. The master's jumbles still look very poetic nevertheless, I must say. To really have fun, take the results and run them through one of the other transformation engines, like the N+7 above.

The Pentametron:
The Pentametron watches all the public tweets created in a day. It picks out the ones that happen to be in iambic pentameter. When it finds some of those, it looks for a pair that rhyme, and then it tweets out a couplet. I scrolled through these today and picked out six couplets to form the “poem” below:

Happy Hour?

The definition of a hustle play
No point in crying over yesterday
I lost myself inside a drunken kiss
Day one and I'm already over this

I never had a valentine before
Whats worth the time and effort anymore?
Don't be a nickel looking for a dime
Its always peanut butter jelly time

I really wanna have a bullet scar
Tuition should include an open bar
Well, changes happen for a reason right?
Don't ask her on a straight tequila night

Cyborg Poetry:
So what do I mean by these words? I mean a poem created by the combination of human and machine, i.e. a person and one or more text transformation engines, as I did above. At this point in time, there's really not a machine that can generate complete poems even at the level of a good poet, in my opinion. However, I think most of the technology to do so exists, so perhaps there's just no compelling reason to do so, certainly not monetary. But just think: if you have an engine that can spit out iambic pentameter (there is one I found) and it uses as source files the work of Shakespeare, all the classical poets and the best modern ones, uses advanced algorithms to manipulate the text according to rules that you can define on the fly, then it's likely that you can “create” some very interesting poetry. In the meantime however, you can use these tools to help you get past roadblocks when writing, when you're looking for a novel phrase - perhaps just outside the reach of understanding.

Is it cheating? Perhaps, but if so, then it's cheating just slightly more than using rhyming dictionaries like Rhymezone, Wordhippo and the like, in my opinion. The poet, at least for now, still has to assemble the pieces into a coherent (or incoherent) whole and tweak the text.

Now suppose someone used a sophisticated poetry generator with input text from the classics, tweaked it, posted the poem on Poetry Soup, entered it in a contest and placed well. Is there even any way to find out it was done? Probably not. The requirements for reverse engineering such a feat are even tougher than its creation. At most, creating poems this way might begin to show certain patterns, the frequent re-use of the same abstruse words or word combinations. However, this is also true of most poets anyway to some degree, reflecting their style, if you will. You might be caught out only if the poem shows a complete departure from your usual style and vocabulary.

What are your thoughts? Is Cyborg Poetry OK?
Please Login
  1. Date: 1/23/2014 8:23:00 PM
    This was HILARIOUS! Here are some lines of one of my poems as done by the "spoonbill": "Against my Raid firearm is colitis!", "My Patio of Wrath", "Limb cranberries", "Am free of my shallots", "A wallet of Ass" (sooo not kidding with that one!) I laughed my butt off at some of these! Thanks for posting; this was GRRRREAT fun! :D

    Login to Reply
  1. Date: 1/21/2014 9:01:00 AM
    wow Roy, I would say Pynchon write like James Joyce or Proust [barely intelligible] stream of consciousness

    Login to Reply
    Jerden Avatar Roy Jerden Date: 1/22/2014 2:31:00 PM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    When you said "kind", I thought you meant genre. I think you meant style, in which case I agree,
  1. Date: 1/21/2014 7:14:00 AM
    Looks like good fun to me...

    Login to Reply
  1. Date: 1/20/2014 8:24:00 PM
    So have you read Thomas Pynchon? What kind of writing would you say that is?

    Login to Reply
    Jerden Avatar Roy Jerden Date: 1/20/2014 8:45:00 PM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

  1. Date: 1/20/2014 8:23:00 PM
    This is a BIG hmmmmmm LOL, I guess what ever gets you writing is OK by me. I'm to the point where I almost enjoy writing more than reading!

    Login to Reply
  1. Date: 1/20/2014 5:40:00 PM
    Roy,check out my Phrasis form,(many examples thereof in My Poems)this a variation on your idea yet unique & original verse none the less.rgds Brian

    Login to Reply

My Past Blog Posts

Foodies - Part 2
Date Posted: 1/7/2015 11:30:00 AM
East Jesus Contest Judged
Date Posted: 1/2/2015 9:21:00 AM
Happy New Year to the World of Poets
Date Posted: 12/31/2014 6:23:00 PM
Merry Christmas to the World of Poets
Date Posted: 12/25/2014 5:54:00 AM
Foodies - Part 1
Date Posted: 12/20/2014 2:01:00 PM
How kids perceive their grandparents
Date Posted: 12/19/2014 5:55:00 AM
Got Writer's Block?
Date Posted: 12/6/2014 8:10:00 AM
Clean and Clever Limerick Contest Update
Date Posted: 11/17/2014 7:51:00 AM
My First Short Story - Accepted for publication
Date Posted: 11/2/2014 6:46:00 PM
Happy Halloween
Date Posted: 10/31/2014 7:18:00 AM
Non-Christian Poetry Contest Update
Date Posted: 10/19/2014 9:05:00 AM
New Contest - Religious Poetry: Non-Christian
Date Posted: 10/5/2014 6:40:00 AM
Date Posted: 9/30/2014 10:57:00 AM
The Pedicure Virgin
Date Posted: 9/11/2014 8:19:00 PM
How to make an image out of a long poem
Date Posted: 9/3/2014 12:58:00 PM
How to do a scansion of your poem to verify the meter
Date Posted: 8/19/2014 6:03:00 PM
Too Subtle?
Date Posted: 8/15/2014 1:39:00 PM
New Feature -Poet's Notes About the Poem
Date Posted: 8/2/2014 12:31:00 PM
Free Verse: Start here or finish here
Date Posted: 7/21/2014 7:04:00 PM
Bogus Entries in Contests
Date Posted: 7/19/2014 6:46:00 AM
Punctuation and Capitalization in Poetry
Date Posted: 7/18/2014 6:35:00 PM
About Poem/Poem Notes/Inspiration, etc.
Date Posted: 7/18/2014 8:17:00 AM
Bawdy Limericks II Judged
Date Posted: 7/6/2014 2:48:00 PM
To Footnote or Not to Footnote?
Date Posted: 7/3/2014 8:47:00 PM
User trying to set a password
Date Posted: 6/24/2014 10:01:00 PM

My Recent Poems

Date PostedPoemTitleFormCategories
2/22/2015 Steamed Buns Limerickhumor,
1/12/2015 Punxsutawney Phil Speaks Limerickhumor,
12/24/2014 Santa's Little Helper Limerickchristmas,humorous,
12/18/2014 How to Make Money with Poetry Limerickhumor,poems,poetry,
12/4/2014 Saint Nicholas Clerihewchristmas,humor,
11/29/2014 But I Must Stay Villanellesad,
11/29/2014 The Pedicure Virgin Prosehumor,
11/14/2014 One Tolkien Over the Line Rhymetribute,
11/5/2014 Message of the Moth Quatrainangst,longing,
10/30/2014 Just Another Routine Day Monorhymedeath,
10/28/2014 Drool Burger Epulaeryufood,
10/25/2014 Pi Day Rhymehumor,
10/25/2014 Go For It Carpe Dieminspirational,
10/15/2014 Halloween on the Dark Side of Town Rhymeholiday,satire,
9/22/2014 Andrea Dietrich Clerihewtribute,
9/15/2014 The Empty Quarter Alliterationearth,nature,stars,
8/31/2014 Bad Goldilocks Abecedarianhumorous,
8/25/2014 Pussy Riot Chastushkahumor,
8/23/2014 Matryoshkan Multiverse Haibunhumor,
8/18/2014 A Roll of Duct Tape Footlehumor,
8/10/2014 The New One Blank versedark,
8/5/2014 Little Superheroes Quatrainchild,children,
7/22/2014 A Brush of Wings Versebird,
7/16/2014 Great A'Tuin Haibundeath,journey,stars,
7/13/2014 Blood on the Saddle Limerickfunny,vacation,
7/8/2014 Willow: A Fable Rhymechildren,death,dream,fant
6/30/2014 Ragnarok: The Storm Epyllionweather,
6/28/2014 Dante's Path Quatrainspiritual,
6/11/2014 Bill's Drill Limerickhumorous,
5/26/2014 Albert Einstein Clerihewhumorous,science,
5/22/2014 John Cougar Mellencamp Clerihewbio,humorous,
5/19/2014 Same Old Soup Quatrainpoetry,satire,
5/14/2014 Into the Sunlight Haikunature,
5/12/2014 Rainier Haikunature,
5/9/2014 Januaries Haikunature,
5/7/2014 Jonah Falcon He's Not Limerickfunny,
5/6/2014 The Well Traveled Linguist Limerickhumorous,
5/5/2014 Raise the Mast Limerickhumorous,
5/4/2014 Are you glad to see me or is that just a wrinkle Limerickage,funny,
5/2/2014 The Devil Can Cite Scripture For His Purpose Rhymehate,religion,slam,
5/1/2014 On Conspiracy Theories Sonnetphilosophy,
4/28/2014 Gold Mold Limerickfunny,
4/28/2014 Tongue Oil Limerickfunny,
4/28/2014 Red Moon Limerickfunny,
4/28/2014 Fochs Gnus Rhymeslam,
4/24/2014 Concerning Human Understanding Blank versephilosophy,
4/1/2014 The Thunderous Wonderous Electric Toy Train Rhymechristmas,nostalgia,
3/18/2014 Ignominious Exit Rhymehumorous,
3/11/2014 Premature Exoneration Limerickholiday,humor,
2/28/2014 Going Gigging Rhymefishing,
2/10/2014 A Series of Unfortunate Darwin Awards Limerickdeath,humorous,silly,
2/7/2014 What Can I Do Sonnetabsence,death,fear,
1/29/2014 The Earth Abides Quatrainnatural disasters,nature,
1/23/2014 Ancient Dance Sonnetlove,
1/21/2014 Happy Hour Iambic Pentameterdrink,relationship,satire
1/7/2014 San Saba Springtime Sonnetnature,spring,
12/28/2013 The Whittlers Cowboygrowing up,nostalgia,
12/19/2013 Redneck Santa Rhymechristmas,
12/17/2013 The Tale of the China Poblana Epichistory,
6/13/2013 Ode on a Japanese Commode Rhymehumorous,
5/24/2013 The Fruits of their Labors Free versepolitical,
5/23/2013 Damaged Goods Quatrainabuse,
5/21/2013 White Trash Nostalgia Quatraingrowing up,
5/15/2013 The Conceit of Poetry Coupletphilosophy,
4/26/2013 Empyreal Ecstasy Quatrainnature,night,stars,
4/24/2013 Bordeaux Rouge Limerickhumorous,
4/18/2013 head typist Quatrainhumorous,writing,
4/14/2013 The Roughneck Song Rhymeday,drink,red,song,work,
3/23/2013 Tiger's Wood Limericksports,
3/20/2013 A Couple for the Ages Sonnethumorous,
3/17/2013 Bambino, Bambina Limerickbaby,
3/11/2013 The Treachery of Images ekphrasisart,image,me,
3/8/2013 Pearl of La Paz Sonnetdeath,grief,
2/17/2013 All Hat and No Cattle Cowboycowboy,humorous,old,time,
2/10/2013 Dark Temptress Rhymefood,humorous,passion,
2/10/2013 Three Pills Didacticlife,me,philosophy,truth,
1/30/2013 Icebox Days Rhymechildhood,growing up,humo
1/26/2013 The Angel Inside Rhymeallegory,angel,art,beauti
1/22/2013 Call Me Tex Cowboycowboy,home,humorous,me,n
1/10/2013 Bobcat Moon Rhymeautumn,friendship,loss,mo
12/9/2012 Six Man Dance Rhymeautumn,football,nostalgia
11/18/2012 La Bejarena Rhymeangel,beauty,death,histor
8/27/2012 Kiss of the Eagle Rhymeadventure,space,travel,
8/23/2012 Delicacy of Leaves Rhymehappiness,nature,time,
8/10/2012 Keep It Turnin' to the Right Rhymeday,earth,funny,life,love
8/10/2012 Cruisin' the Drag Rhymecar,funny,growing up,high

My Photos

Fav Poems

Amazement Free verseplaces,voice,life,voice,
Pearl Diving Quatrainlove,
Slow Movin Tights Balladme,red,women,
That Night We Kissed Rondeauromanceheart,night,heart,
A Voice In The Wind Rhymeimagination,nature,
Stay Sonnetlife,self,self,
Within a Storm Sonnetinspirational,
Sailing the Seas In A Pecan Tree Rhymeadventure,old,
Soul of the Poet Quatrainfarewell,poems,poetess,
Generations Epicbirth,death,hope,life,
Muse Free versewords,writing,
Falling upward Rhymeanger,angst,bereavement,b
Words Rhymelove,words,song,song,
No Longer Mourn for Me When I Am Dead Lyricdeath,faith,religious,
Ashen Snow Villanellesad,september,

Fav Poets

Mark Peterson United States Flag United States Read