Tuesday, April 15, 2008

still poetry (sort of anyway)

This should have been the April 1st post - poetry for National Poetry Month + merry (sorta or maybe just ersatz) poetastric prankstering. I'm (finally) in process of inviting this year's guest readers (such as they are at this point) for April poems, both their own and their personal favorites.

While waiting and for mindless fun, check out Rob's Amazing Poem Generator. After all, Miriam Sagan, guest reader and workshop instructor writes, "But art is also play." Rob, aka Commander Taco, writes that he has resorted to programming to escape from productive labor. This one generates poetry. The poem you will see if you visit the page was generated by chance. If this entertains you, enter a URL and have it generate a poem based on the contents. The generator may even improve mundane pages - but only marginally.

BBC's Dylan Thomas rpg page (working with better source material to be sure) turns out more interesting results. Maybe even something the daring (or foolish) would bring to a poetry open mic - to be sure rediting it to Dylan and whoever wrote the software code  as co-poets. This rpg suggests yet another possibility - one surely edging into cut-ip and found genres - enter poems, whether yours or by another or sundry others, into a generator. What might a rpg yield if fed your journal or favorite poems or passages, those most formative influences?

Baudelaire, in "Correspondances," evokes hidden metaphysical connections in nature that can be apprehended by the senses. Different objects and experiences can correspond to one another in an unexpected but purely aesthetic way. The connection can be metaphorical, or poetic even: in a rhyme or by juxtaposition in a line of verse. RPG's make random juxtapositions by algorithm.

A London Guardian blogger (arts section) suggests that mobile phones are random poetry generators with secret poetic intelligence because they make connections between things on the apparently random basis when key strokes for two different words are the same:

73532833 is both 'selected' and 'rejected
7468 - shot/riot/pint'
7259 - 'play' and 'slay'.
7638 - 'soft' and 'poet'

I wonder what Baudelaire or Rimbaud (the Drunken Boat guy), progenitors of Tristan (and thereby granddadas), would have thought of random poetry generators, whether they possess a secret poetic intelligence. They make random connections by algorithm, yet throw out / up occasionally startling combinations.

Other Random Poetry Generators:
American "Cut-Up" poetry, kin to "found poetry," dates back to the 50's when Brion Gysin sliced up part of a newspaper and happened to notice that by combining random parts of the text, one could come up with some interesting passages. William Burroughs followed suit. Cut-up technique started with Tristan Tzara's 1920's DaDa experiments

Anyone with a pair of scissors could be a poet. Now anyone with a JavaScript-compatible browser can generate poetry. Digital word collage. Leave the scissors in the drawer - you might fall and hurt yourself - and try these. Post the promising or just impertinently amusing to this thread as comments.

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