"The Two" and other poems

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Yesterday Nick Montfort returned to Penn to give a talk under the title "Lean Computer-Generated Poetry as Exploration of Language, Culture, and Computation". The talk was basically a commentary on (some of) the contents of his interactive website https://nickm.com/, so you can explore the same material yourself, minus the commentary.

There's "AUTOPIA", which constructs random-poetic phrases out of car names, e.g. NEON STARLET PROBES REGAL DIPLOMAT or CAVALIER VILLAGERS ACCLAIM RABBIT. As with the other items, there's also a link to the code.

"The Two" generates stanzas like these, out of random combinations of seven first lines, ten verbs with random choice of subject and object gender, and ten last lines:

The police officer nears the alleged perpetrator.
He surrenders to her.
Each one learns something.

The indigent turns to the librarian.
He berates her.
They feel better after a good cry.

The rescuer locates the survivalist.
She confesses to him.
Rude gesture meets rude gesture.

There are also versions in Spanish, French, Chinese, Polish, and Russian, each of which offers some different challenges given its treatment of grammatical gender and pronominal reference. "The Two" reminds me of the Winograd Schema Challenge, though there's no right answer in this case.

My personal favorite is "The Deletionist",

a concise system for automatically producing an erasure poem from any Web page. It systematically removes text to uncover poems, discovering a network of poems called "the Worl" within the World Wide Web.

For example, David Brooks' most recent column starts this way:

Nick's own biography:

And the end of yesterday's "Lawyer lawsuits?" LLOG post:


  1. Paul Turpin said,

    January 24, 2020 @ 8:16 am

    Nice! Could these be Oulipo..?

  2. C said,

    January 24, 2020 @ 9:12 am

    Alternatively, you get a nine-year old (allegedly) to do it.

    Haiku by a Robot

    Seven hundred ten
    Seven hundred eleven
    Seven hundred twelve

    by Nathan Beifuss, Age 9, California
    Source: https://www.reddit.com/r/funny/comments/3a3efw/haiku_by_a_robot/

  3. Philip Taylor said,

    January 28, 2020 @ 3:26 pm

    Although I am unconvinced of the benefits of computer-generated poetry, I realised this evening as I sat in the hotel restaurant listening to the same single loop of oriental music that I have heard countless times before that there might well be some benefits in computer-generated music. If we could (for example) instruct the computer to generate some random-but-oriental-sounding music, it would avoid completely the problem of there being only a finite repertoire available, and might well provide an interesting listening experience.

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