Make your own Synthetic poems : Poetry through the Ages

A page from the "Poetry through the Ages" exhibit...

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As a synthetic poet, get ready to create works that cause your readers to question the procedure behind the generation of the poem. It doesn’t matter whether you write in a public form, employ a computer algorithm, or hand your audience the pieces with clues about how to construct the work on their own. To get started, you can try these experiments and create your synth poem:

Just like Raymond Queneau and his fellow OuLiPians, try using mathematical formulae for your poems. The quadratic equation, Bernoulli’s equation, or Doppler equations are all ripe for translation from mathematical language to those that are spoken. Poems utilizing the Fibonacci sequence are also quite popular.

Every August, the 3:15 Experiment starts up with a new round of participants. Take this opportunity to alarm your subconscious by writing a short poem every morning. Click here for more information.

If you’re interested in assistance from machines as you create your own poems, the University Center College in Dublin’s The Creative Language System Group can help you out. This team of researchers has several programs available that will assist your inventive uses of language. Many poets also utilize search engines such as to create anaphoric texts. You might also want to try taking a paragraph and using one of the various web-based translation engines to move it from English to Arabic to Russian and back to English again, just to see whether the text undergoes any interesting changes.

Write word pictures.

You may want to try a Fibonacci poem, using the simpler of two means of constructing it: syllable count. Think of a nautilus shell or a pyramid as you build the poem, spiraling or rising in a perfect pattern. You can punctuate as you please, but the syllable count is fixed. The syllable count per line appears in parentheses next to the poem, Leaves (by Robert Yehling); for this example, we’ll count to 13, then back down.

in a wind(3)
calved by the back end(5)
of a tornado that, this time,(8)
showed mercy for farmers, laborers and citizens(13)
racing the black-bearded storm to(8)
store the bumper crop;(5)
not like last(3)
time, when(2)

If you want to enrich the experience, present your Fibonacci poem visually on the page:

in a wind
calved by the back end
of a tornado that, this time,
showed mercy for farmers, laborers and citizens
racing the black-bearded storm to
store the bumper crop;
not like last
time, when