Pop Quiz! Is This Poet a Beat? A Bot? Or a Birnbach?
To inaugurate National Poetry Month, we present the perfect way to test your ability to discern art from technology. It’s harder than you think!
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Aristotle said “Poetry is finer and more philosophical than history; for poetry expresses the universal, and history only the particular.” Maybe that is why the art form has fallen into disfavor. A group of Brazilian poetry lovers has tried to reverse the course of this horrible trend by helping anyone … nay, everyone transform their tweets into structured poems by creating an app called poetweet. Not to worry, you don’t actually have to write a poem yourself. You can sip a caipirinha and let the Brazilian poetry lovers’ algorithm do all the heavy lifting.
Their algorithm isn’t half-bad, if you ask me. It shuffles one’s tweets into a pretty credible poem. So credible, that in fact, we’re going to play a little guessing game. Below are seven poems. Three are excerpts from poems written by Beat poets. Three poems were constructed from a bot. And one was written by me, a human woman with an English degree from a reputable New England university. But not to give me the upper hand, my poem comes verbatim from my iPhone memo app. Let’s see if you can determine which is which. (Answers below. Please: No cheating!)
In the meantime, I’ll be here trying to find a bot that can deliver some Cachaça for my caipirinha.
The smiling Schenley poster will always smile
Impish death Satyr Bomb Bombdeath
Turtles exploding over Istanbul
The jaguar’s flying foot
soon to sink in arctic snow
Penguins plunged against the Sphinx
The top of the Empire state
arrowed in a broccoli field in Sicily
Bullrings look like runny noses
But I’m savoring my tonight.
Hosts look like Disney princesses
Mall in the winter in England
Second grader’s T-shirt design
The usual career path, to be sure
It’s Messieurs et Madames
3. Dunkin Donuts
Like a many mile Slip ‘n Slide
They don’t mean “Anti-Aging?”
Is already a line formed outside
on her recorder is overreaching.
Evening to talk about bad manners
Cameron Mitchell is a revelation.
Sparks scramble to fill orders
“An epic week for fashion.”
Of Fairfield County’s nicer girls
Was on hold for twenty –two minutes
And infuriating traffic snarls.
My heart on my dolman sleeve
Someone’s boyfriend take note
Anthony Weiner, I believe.
Have you ever stopped to consider
underwear in the abstract
When you really dig into it
some shocking problems are raised
Underwear is something
we all have to deal with
some kind of underwear
The Pope wears underwear I hope
The Governor of Louisiana
I saw him on TV
He must have had tight underwear
He squirmed a lot
Naproxen 500 mgs. A typical day
They didn’t have baggies then
Before people drank coffee on the streets.
We didn’t stretch.
Mannequins look hungry
What do you know?
A middle-aged woman is a houseguest
Early chapters devoted to everything
How refreshing, Rupert
Who do you know?
Concert on the last day of school.
That’s my hero, Lillian Ross.
No one ever calls me cool.
Celebrity “is perfectly gross.”
Perhaps I spoke too soon.
At an independent book store
Bank robber of “Dog Day Afternoon”
Pre-Halloween much much more
Out of Night Glow ™ Toilet Seats.
The setting made us look smarter.
One of Emmet Kelley’s clown coats?
The bestseller: Before or After?
Relieved that she actually eats.
Answer key: 1. Beat (Gregory Corso) 2. Bot 3. Bot 4. Beat (Lawrence Ferlinghetti) 5. Birnbach 6. Bot
Original photo of Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso by Elsa Dorfman
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