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algorithmic poetry


Over the years I’ve experimented with new poetic forms through the use of procedural text generation methods. Here I’ve highlighted some of those projects: Archive of the Anthropocene, Finnegans Wake-ifyApology GeneratorInternal Security ZonesSmartPharmacist, and Chiastic Wood


I use both Python and JavaScript programming languages in my practice. Typically my text generation is powered by machine learning using TensorFlowml5.js , stochastic models like Markov chain, and grammar libraries like tracery.



Archive of the Anthropocene (2020) is a generative, ten-line poem that captures the feelings and language of climate grief. It was developed in collaboration with climate activist and writer Ash Sanders. We used procedural text generation as part of a process of developing new rituals for the loss of species and lands.

See the interactive website here.



Each time you refresh the website, it generates an ephemeral poem—a chance mutation of all the words and archives we fed into the generator. The primary source text for the poem was tweets scraped from Twitter about climate grief, climate anxiety, and species forced into extinction. Secondary sources include words about geography and language pulled from other poets. Website built with JavaScript + generative text powered by tracery.



Finnegans Wake-ify (2016) is a text generator tool that allows you to generate a text that mimics both the style and the vocabulary of the James Joyce novel Finnegans WakeFinnegans Wake is written in an experimental stream of consciousness style that rejects narrative conventions. Web app built in ReactJS + Webpack + Node.js.

See the interactive website here and the process blog post here. 




Apology Generator (2016) is a project that generates poems composed of my apologies. My primary source text used was an archive of my emails. Specifically I used emails in which I offered up some kind of apology, whether it was a late email reply, a rejection, or expression of empathy.

Examples of poems that were generated:

#1
Did you make it to a church?
also, sorry if it was a little
awkward this morning.
I’m sorry to bother you again,
but I’m still unable to sign
into Kronos.

#2
I’m sorry that I committed to
helping you this morning, but
I hadn’t had time to think it
through until today.
I guess you could unfollow me
if you want but I’d rather we
just talk about it 🙂
Oh no!

#3
Sorry, I’m being totally rude.
Good luck selling it on
Craigslist.
oh no!




Internal Security Zones (2016) is a satirical generative text project that generates instructions for constructing and maintaining a prison environment. It uses the U.S. Department of Justice’s Jail Design Guide as primary source text, with a database of business aphorisms as a secondary source text. See the process blog post here. Website built with Python + Flask.

As of 2016, the U.S. criminal justice system holds more than 2.3 million people in 1,719 state prisons, 102 federal prisons, 942 juvenile correctional facilities, 3,283 local jails, and 79 Indian Country jails as well as in military prisons, immigration detention facilities, civil commitment centers, and prisons in U.S. territories [1]. The American prison population has more than quadrupled over the past 25 years, an increase largely driven by heavier penalties for non-violent offenses and with disproportionate impact on people of color [2].

Michel Foucault says that power is not static, nor does it emanate from a center of origin. Rather, power exists in an enmeshed network and is wielded by people or groups by way of “episodic” or “sovereign” acts of domination [3]. Power is dispersed and pervasive rather than concentrated, embodied, and enacted. Confirming Foucault’s description of “modern societies of control” (a term used by Gilles Deleuze), Giorgio Agamben argues that biopower operates in physical spaces known as “zones of exception,” physical spaces in which disciplinary power is exercised [4].

The architecture of the prison – the panoptical design, the single cells, the isolation and surveillance – internalizes discipline. I’m interested in the material form of prisons and how capitalism fuels the construction of prisons: Who designs them? What do the physical spaces look like? What are the material exigencies?






SmartPharmacist (2016) is a generative text project that gives you terrible medical advice. As a primary text source, it uses the FDA’s OpenFDA API, which provides a comprehensive repository of every “adverse event” (i.e. side effect) associated with a particular pharmaceutical drug, along with dozens of other endpoints.

Examples of a medical advice that was generated:

Welcome to SmartPharmacist, Rebecca.

Based on our analysis of your condition, we would suggest you start with a low dosage of Desliplatinoxarane to treat your appetite loss.

Desliplatinoxarane is a ovulation inducer drug that is approved for treatment of appetite loss and congenital hip cancer.

Suggested daily dosage is 5 pills a day taken orally, or rubbing the gel form of the drug on your introverted knee.

In the olden days, individuals suffering from appetite loss cancer were prescribed Geodon and Oxycodone, but new advancements in the field of hip Geodesy has helped doctors better remedy this disorder.


See the process blog post here.



Chiastic Wood (2016) is a is a generative, seven-line poem that adheres to a loose chiastic structure. It uses as its primary texts Craigslist listings for antique wooden furniture and episode scripts of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks

A chiasmus, or chiastic pattern, is a narrative technique in which two ideas, A and B, appear in the pattern ABBA. It’s a circular, palindromic way of speaking or writing that reflects the structure of oral traditions and epic texts. These kinds of symmetrical patterns are often found in ancient literature such as the Odyssey, the Iliad, the Hebrew Bible, and other texts rooted in oral tradition.

Examples of poems that were generated:

#1
The fire I speak of is not a kind fire.
a solid teak frame with tongue and groove joinery.
Never seen so many trees in my life.
I’ve got one man too many in my life
Never seen so many trees in my life.
a solid teak frame with tongue and groove joinery.
The fire I speak of is not a kind fire.


#2
that cherry pie is worth a stop.
Full length, fully upholstered, arched backs.
Maybe, if it was harder…
these creatures who introduce themselves
Maybe, if it was harder…
Full length, fully upholstered, arched backs.
that cherry pie is worth a stop.


See the process blog post here.






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