Artificial Poetry Generation
Artificial Poetry Generation/1 was the graduation project of Sim Schindel and Omer Kursat, at the Boğaziçi University, in 1977.
As a graduation requirement of the Associate Degree in Computer Programming curriculum, students were required to complete a project to develop a software application. In addition to implementation of the software (design, coding, debugging and demonstration), an accompanying term paper had to be presented.
Since the aim of the two-year program was to prepare students for immediate employment upon graduation, the selection of the subject matter was somewhat critical and had to be approved by the professors. The business applications such as payroll, stock control and accounting were most popular with the rest of the class, however Sim and I did not want to work on yet another "payroll" application—as far as we were concerned we were still in school, and we were hip, cool and progressive, and so we decided that we would deal with the boring real-life work later in life.
I am not sure how poetry generation came about as the topic, perhaps as an idea from Sim, or a book of poems that we were reading, possibly of modern poetry. Also, I was into the the Beat Generation, heavily influenced by Jack Kerouac, and also the works of Clark Coolidge, Michael McClure, as well as the poetry of Jim Morrison.
I am not also sure how we came up with the APG/1 name—the name obviously dates the project (think 2001: A Space Odyssey, PL/1, UNIVAC, IBM and HAL). If it were today, we probably would have called it iPoem or Lyriko, and would program it to wake up every so often and tweet its output.
I think the “love and creativity” subtitle was an effort to identify it as an art project (as opposed to a business one), and probably to deliver a "love and peace" message as part of the hippie influence of those days—the message was also delivered on the buttons that I made for the team members (hand-made, shown above).
In retrospect, the complexity of the system seems rather trivial in light of today’s amazing spectrum of computer use in arts and literature and the advancements in computer technology. On the other hand, the results were pleasingly surprising for us, and were appreciated by fellow students and the professors, judging by the standards and expectations of those days.
The system had hints of innovative smartness in it—deep down inside we knew that it was just random gibberish, but of the many stanzas that the system spewed out one would stand out every so often, delighting us with its wittiness, rhythms and rhymes, challenging us to try to look further into its meaning.
Now that I think about it, APG/1 was more than just a bunch of monkeys typing away, it was our creation—with its overall software design that defined its capabilities and limitations; with the tweaks that we had programmed to influence its behavior and style; and with the custom dictionary that we had built, which only had some three thousand words, but had the smarts of meter, rhyme, subject, and word classifications such as time, quantity, manner and quality.
We also realized that the system could be used as a source of inspiration, a tool to stir up imagination. We experimented with writing our own poems by combining APG/1 poetry; as we did not want to remove APG/1's contribution altogether, we only grouped together single lines and complete stanzas from different poems and did not make any alterations within a line. See some examples below.
With these in mind, I realize now that the system had met its expectations, and delivered poetry—artificial or otherwise.
APG/1 Poems - The following poems were generated by the Artificial Poetry Generation/1 project
NO WEED WILL WHISPER MY MEGAPHONE
TERRIBLE WOMEN, THEY WIN WHICHEVER.
The very first APG/1 poem, 1977.
AND THIS SLIPPERY BUSHMAN
PROPOSING YOUR ICEMAN EVIDENTLY TO ONLY THE FIREMAN
NONETHELESS PERSISTING, WOODSMAN WILL APPRECIATE
NO CALENDAR TO ELOPE OR TO CEASE
THE FLIRTATION OF YOUR LENSES HAS OBJECTED HIM TO FEAST
An original APG/1 poem, 1977.
OFF TO WAR
I WILL BE DEPARTING AND WITHSTANDING WITHOUT YOU
DO YOU DEPART TO CLAP
AMONG APPRECIATIONS AND ZEPPELINS TOY IS THE STARLESS ONE
WHY CLASSIFICATIONS DREAM WHILE EXPERIMENTATIONS DO NOT HIBERNATE
WHY DO REPUTATIONS PROTEST WHEN CONFIDENCE IS SO OBSCENE
I WILL BE CRITICIZING AND MOTIVATING WITHOUT YOU
NO ROBOT WILL ELECT MY EXHALATION
DO YOU CELEBRATE TO BITE
HIS TOLERANT DENSITY CRASHED TO HIM
FOR I MUST NOT TRANSLATE WITHOUT DISCIPLINE
HE COULD NOT SUBMIT THE WOMAN SO HE YELLED
IN THE CHURCHYARD, IN THE STEEP ARENA
DO YOU SMASH TO SINK
HE COULD NOT ELECT THE FLIGHT SO HE CONTROLLED
IF SCOTCH AND SODA COULD BE LIBRARY
A MELODY WOULD MOTIVATE WIDELY
I WILL BE PROTESTING AND DISDAINING WITHOUT YOU
DO YOU FUCK TO STARVE
KNOWING WAS ECSTATIC WHEN ALL THE WOMEN ARE ELECTING IN ROTTERDAM
HIS DOMINANT MACHINERY SPEAKS TO HIM
I WILL NEVER TRANSLATE AGAIN
OVER IN SANTIAGO SPECIFICATIONS ARE IDEAL AND THE WOMEN ARE SPITTING
HE COULD NOT FIGHT THE VITAMIN SO HE YELLED
DO YOU STEAL TO SCAN
LIKE A COMIQUE COMPLOT OR A MELLOW SIGHT
AND YOUR ECSTATIC FASCINATION OFFENDS DUMBLY
WITH AN IDEALIST THAT DID SURPRISE
I WILL NEVER DEPART AGAIN
FOR I MUST NOT TRANSLATE WITHOUT POLICE
I WILL NEVER INTRIGUE AGAIN
I WILL BE MOTIVATING AND SPITTING WITHOUT YOU
WITH A HEART BEAT THAT DID GRADUATE
HE COULD NOT SUCK THE SPECIFICATION SO HE PACKED
SHE IS MY CARTON WISE RADIATION
DO YOU RESCUE TO RETARD
I WILL NEVER CLAP AGAIN
Another original APG/1 poem, 1977.
THAT ASPIRIN HAS SET SEVEN CEMETERIES
PERHAPS CIGARETTES COULD BE TRAGEDIES
CARTON ELECTRICITY, CRYPTOGRAMMATIC CHRISTMAS TREES
APPROACHING AND DEPARTING, OR DECEIVING AND CONVICTING
ELECTRICITY OF YOUR CAROLINE IMAGINES DELIBERATELY THESE PARALLEL HIGHWAYS
INSTRUMENTS—AESTHETIC INDICATION, INSANE FEATURE—EXPECTS OVERLOOKING THE HAPPY REDWOOD
TEARFULLY INFLUENCING WITH PNEUMATIC MONKEYS, UNEASY
OR SELF-DESTRUCTION THAT AVOIDS YOU BIZARRELY
BLINDLY INTO SNOT
THE SENSE DID MOURN WITH SARCASM
FULL-GROWN RATTLE SNAKES ASCEND SEVERER
ILL FATED EARS ZIP HALFHEARTEDLY
INSINCERELY WE ANNIHILATE,
DISAGREEING AND OVERFEEDING OR LEAVING AND STREAKING
APPARENT ACTIVITIES DEVELOPED LIKE DEPRESSING BAGGAGE
FROM THE AGGRESSIVE PEPPERMINT, THE PEPPERMINT OF TRAGEDY HIT
SO THROWN, OUR INFINITY WILL THANK
SO CONTROLLED, OUR HEAVEN WILL STAY
THE ATTIC OF IDEAL, BULGING AS DAYBREAK
THINKING WITH MANHOOD
OVER THE DAFFODILS OF A HANDSOME FAIRYLAND
I AM CEMETERY, YOU ARE APARTMENT
Modified APG/1 poem (complete unmodified lines/stanzas from various poems have been grouped together), 1977.
SELF-DESTRUCTION OF ANIMATED IMAMS
THE SENSITIVE EYES THROWS ON
WITHOUT BREAD, WITHOUT TABLEAU, SPEAKERS ARE SIXTEEN
AND APPRECIATE WITH PALMY AQUAMARINE
SWEETLY WE SWITCH
SWEETLY WE TWITCH
SLIPPERY CAESAR AND SLIPPERY CAESAR
SNOW IS HE SEAWEED OF DESTRUCTION
CAESAR MUST DEMONSTRATE
TWITCH TO BE UNSEEN
Original APG/1 poem, 1977.
TO SIR WITH LOVE
DO YOU PHONE TO DREAM
FOR I MUST NOT COLLAPSE WITHOUT PRESTIGE
FOR I MUST NOT PHONE WITHOUT BIZARRENESS
THE OUTDATED ANTIQUITY CHEAPENS TO THE REASON AND UNITES AS IT EQUALS
WITH A BARRICADE THAT DID STANDARDIZE
DO YOU REAPPEAR TO SURPRISE
An original APG/1 poem, dedicated to Rifat Hoca (Doç. Dr. M. Rıfat Sağlam)
HATE IS A LEGEND
AS IF IT WERE FLOATING IN ICH LIEBE DICH
WITH A TOOTHPICK THAT DID YELL
ENJOYING AND A KNEELING
WHEN I RECOMMENDED CONVERSATION WAS YELLING
DO YOU ABASH TO ARREST
WHEN I CONTROLLED DELICACY WAS ARRESTING
SHE HAD TO ELECT ON TUESDAY
THROUGH CONFIDENCE IT ACTED AS IF PAYING
AND HE WAS WISE TO MASTURBATE
WITH ICE-CREAM SHE HAD RECOMMENDED NOW SHE SCREAMS WITHOUT RATE
THE CALCULATOR OF DEVIL MUST PASSIONATELY CLAP WHILE AUTOMOBILES SPIT
WITCHES ARE NOT CORRUPTED
Original APG/1 poem, 1977.