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AROUND HOME : Poetry From a PC?

July 09, 1989|PAUL CIOTTI

YOU SIT ALONE at your desk by the window. A cold rain pours down outside. You want to write a poem to tell your lover of your feelings of ineffable longing and desperate passion. Except, today--cruel fate--the words won't come.

But, hey! No problem! Just pop a copy of Poetry Generator into your PC and let the music play.

I used to be an expert on

Things I'd rather not remember

Now and then

The pounding of the surf keeps us awake

And it begins to rain

In the morning you notice that

It didn't mean anything.

But wait a second, you say. Your love is a heavy-duty intellectual, a fan of Sartre and Heidegger. You can't send a mushy love poem to someone who's into death, existential terror and the unbearable lightness of being. Then fire up Poetry Generator one more time and lay this little beauty on her mind:

Share a glass of wine with me tonight

Without letting anyone know

And I will follow you

In the milky moonlight

Faded photographs

Settle over the landscape

And it had to end this way

Sudden the sky grows dark.

Poetry Generator can compose a poem in about three seconds in any quantity you like. As with snowflakes, no two are alike. The author, R. K. West of Mission Hills, has compiled a library of thousands of words and phrases randomly chosen by the software and then arranged in poetic form according to certain structural rules. Eight out of each 10 poems make only partial sense, but the remainder are at least as comprehensible as the sort of things you see in poetry magazines or the kind of existential Angst that angry young men and women used to shout out at poetry readings.

The weight lifters who don't belong here

Know exactly what they want

They are all unfaithful to you

Even though they've lost track of the time

You feel your cheeks burning with shame

They look at you through binoculars

And your analyst was right.

Poetry Generator, a shareware program, is available from Public Source, P.O. Box 4408, Stanford, Calif. 94309. The cost is $3, plus $1 shipping and California sales tax.

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