APG/1

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 3150 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

UNTITLED

NO WEED WILL WHISPER MY MEGAPHONE

TERRIBLE WOMEN, THEY WIN WHICHEVER.

The very first APG/1 poem, 1977.


UNTITLED

AND THIS SLIPPERY BUSHMAN

PROPOSING YOUR ICEMAN EVIDENTLY TO ONLY THE FIREMAN


BETTY MEDITATES

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.


CIVILIZATION

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


HESITANT BRILLIANCE

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.


UNTITLED

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 WITHOU RATE


THE CALCULATOR OF DEVIL MUST PASSIONATELY CLAP WHILE AUTOMOBILES SPIT

WITCHES ARE NOT CORRUPTED

Original APG/1 poem, 1977.