Poetry is fantastic, but in recent years it has disappeared up its own arse. While the trend (if you want to call something continuing for hundreds of years a trend) has been to go on milking every last ounce of meaning and expression from the dry teat of the soul, here at Poetry WTF?! we take a different view. We look at the wonderful and overflowing abundance of words left by past masters, and the even greater abundance of crazy words floating around the internet, and use them as raw material.
Below are a few emerging genres in this exciting new field. Yet why stick with them? Go forth and invent your own!
Note: Given the great strides made in AI Natural Language Processing tools we are currently giving preference to the category of Algorithmic Poetry, but don’t let that constrain you! Please read the blog post discussing the evolution of Natural Language Processing in creative writing to get a feel for what is possible. We recommend the following AI tools for writing assistance:
Remix poetry is the literary equivalent of Youtube remix videos. We take a famous poem or two, throw a few catchphrases into the mix, and out comes Dr. Seuss sounding like Shakespeare. Hurrah! It is also a form of cut-up writing, as practiced by William S. Burroughs. Phrases from one work are combined with utterances from the other to produce startling new wordage.
There are different types of remix poetry, some retaining a stricter adherence to the original forms of the source material than others. For instance, Ozymandias by Shakespeare is a sonnet that remains faithful to the positioning of phrases in the original texts. On the other hand, War on Terror by William Shakespeare is essentially Shakespeare’s Sonnet 43 interspersed with catchphrases from America’s War on Terror. The form is therefore very flexible.
As a rule, the resulting texts contain no new phrases or words not found in the originals.
Sculpture poems view an existing text, usually a famous poem, as a block of bronze at which to chip away and create a new work of art. In other words, sculpture poetry is created through subtraction.
Sculpture poems are therefore also related to blackout poems, but with two important differences. The first is that sculpture poems tend to use poetry, rather than newspaper reportage, as raw material. The second is that the raw material is not necessarily a physical artifact, such as a printed newspaper or magazine. When the source material is digital text, we may say that sculpting results in digital whiteout.
Sculpture poetry’s only rule is that nothing should be added. Only the raw material should be used.
When a poem is transformed into something else, not through mixing or taking away, but by changing something fundamental about it, we may say that it has mutated. The revolution could be pronounced, or it could be subtle, but the transformation should not be in doubt. At the same time the resulting work’s lineage is traceable.
We may also say that the mutated poem could not have existed without its antecedent, the source material. Yet some aspect of the original has altered decisively, conclusively.
For instance a translation is a form of mutation. The new language is not a mere mirror of the old, but a new habitat in which the old is discernible, yet cannot breathe, just as the new is given form only in its novel context.
NEON LIGHT POETRY
Neon Light Poetry is named after those bright neon billboards that light up festive and advertising messages. When combined with another retro favourite, the animated gif, we find a happy medium – pun intended! – that provides a fun and colourful way for poetry to get its message across.
The rise of Natural Language Processing has opened up new vistas for poets. With algorithmic poetry we celebrate the dawn of human-machine collaboration and explore what the world of technology has to offer. From the use of digitised Cutup techniques to Markov Chains, from Context Free Grammars to Machine Learning, everything is free game!
If you have an idea that you want to discuss or that you’re not sure how to execute, don’t be a douche, get in touch!