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Roy Jerden's Blog

About Roy Jerden
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I starting writing poetry again in 2012 after a 50 year hiatus.

Born and raised in West Texas, I lived all over the area as a child until my mother remarried, as my father was in the oil drilling business, which required constant moving. I grew up in San Angelo, home of Fort Concho and the Buffalo Soldiers, but spent quite a few summers working on my grandpa's farm in the Texas Hill Country.

I met my wife Toni while I was stationed at Aviano AFB, Italy. I learned to speak Italian fluently and we still speak it at home interchangeably with English. My three sons, all born in Italy after I got out of the USAF, also speak Italian.

We moved back to the USA in 1972 and settled in Missouri, where I went back to school.

We moved to Atlanta in 1988, when Toni relocated here with AT&T. I got a job with McKesson (then HBOC) working with medical information systems, which started my career in this field. I had a natural talent for application design and parlayed this talent into a great R&D management position with an internet startup.

We are now retired. We spend time traveling the world and visiting our grandchildren in CA and NC. We also spend some time in Italy almost every year visiting and traveling with friends in Europe as we have a small apartment there in Sacile near Aviano, not far from Venice.

My other passions are mushroom hunting (the edible kind), gourmet cooking and bread baking.


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.

Experiments:
http://www.writing.upenn.edu/bernstein/experiments.html
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. 

Dialectizer: http://www.rinkworks.com/dialect
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: http://www.bing.com/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: http://www.spoonbill.org/n+7/
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: http://www.languageisavirus.com/writing-games.html
This is actually a complete site with all kinds of text manipulation tools. I tried out this one:

Shakespearean Sonnet Generator: http://www.languageisavirus.com/sonnet-generator.html
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: https://twitter.com/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?
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  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

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  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

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    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...

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

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

    Cyberpunk.
  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!

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  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

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My Past Blog Posts

 
Cowboys in the Badlands Part 2 - Roy Jerden
Date Posted: 9/21/2014 7:30:00 PM
Cowboys in the Badlands Part 1 - Roy Jerden
Date Posted: 9/19/2014 10:32:00 PM
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How to do a scansion of your poem to verify the meter
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Too Subtle?
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New Feature -Poet's Notes About the Poem
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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?
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Centering, Bolding, and Italicizing in a Poem
Date Posted: 6/9/2014 9:51:00 PM
Bawdy Limerick Contest Complete
Date Posted: 6/7/2014 4:38:00 PM
Limerick Contest Update - Last chance
Date Posted: 5/27/2014 5:31:00 PM
Bonnie Parker's Poetry
Date Posted: 5/24/2014 2:48:00 PM
Limerick Contest Update
Date Posted: 5/22/2014 2:48:00 PM
Kudos on the Miltonic Sonnet Contest
Date Posted: 5/13/2014 4:06:00 PM
Limerick Contest
Date Posted: 5/4/2014 7:56:00 PM
Roy's Ramblings - The Final Invention
Date Posted: 5/4/2014 9:42:00 AM
Contest Enhancements I'd Like to See
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Age Test
Date Posted: 3/23/2014 8:44:00 PM
A couple of not so burning questions
Date Posted: 3/23/2014 12:23:00 PM

My Poems

123
Date PostedPoem TitleFormCategories
9/22/2014I'm a 4Clerihewtribute,
9/15/2014The Empty QuarterAlliterationearth,nature,stars,
8/31/2014Bad GoldilocksAbecedarianhumorous,
8/25/2014Pussy RiotChastushkahumor,
8/23/2014Matryoshkan MultiverseHaibunhumor,
8/18/2014A Roll of Duct Tape - FootleFootlehumor,
8/10/2014The New OneBlank versedark,
8/5/2014Picket Tupp and Poteeta WheyQuatrainchild,children,
7/22/2014A Brush of WingsVersebird,
7/16/2014Great A'Tuin - the Giant Star TurtleHaibundeath,journey,stars,
7/13/2014Blood on the SaddleLimerickfunny,vacation,
7/8/2014Willow: A FableRhymechildren,death,dream,fant
6/30/2014Ragnarok: The StormEpyllionweather,
6/28/2014Dante's PathQuatrainspiritual,
6/11/2014Bill's DrillLimerickhumorous,
5/26/2014Albert EinsteinClerihewhumorous,science,
5/22/2014John Cougar MellencampClerihewbio,humorous,
5/19/2014SoupQuatrainpoetry,satire,
5/14/2014Into the SunlightHaikunature,
5/12/2014RainierHaikunature,
5/9/2014JanuariesHaikunature,
5/7/2014Jonah Falcon He's NotLimerickfunny,
5/6/2014The Well Traveled LinguistLimerickhumorous,
5/5/2014Raise the MastLimerickhumorous,
5/4/2014Are you glad to see me or is that just a wrinkleLimerickage,funny,
123

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