(oooh aren’t I clever)
I’m currently amusing myself with the poetry generator Sea and Spar Between. It uses common words and rhythms from the works of Emily Dickinson and Herman Melville to generate quatrains. But unlike other online generators of things, rather than simply spitting out a random output, it puts all of its output poems into a coordinate system that users can navigate. I haven’t read much of either Dickinson or Melville but the result is both dizzying and fascinating. It displays a small part of the grid at any given time so you can see how adjacent quatrains are similar, and it’s quite fun to see how phrases change their meaning when grouped with different elements. I’ve also found that the generator’s obviously nautical name shades my interpretation of the poems—even when there’s no maritime vocabulary I think of ships, oceans, long voyages.
Here’s two of many quatrains (and their coordinates) that I enjoyed. They’re structurally almost identical, as are many of the other poems; it only takes a few minutes of browsing to guess the algorithms behind this corpus—which is astonishing when you consider the sheer size of it.
then blameless is the sky
one art one star one leg one snow
threadless turn and dance
but guiltless is the sky
one keep one sight one joy one grass
soundless move and turn