Because I'm a bookish young woman with little facility for poetry, Elizabeth Bishop's "One Art" has long been my favorite poem. My appreciation may be something of a cliche, but Bishop's villanelle has recently inspired something rather more surprising: a twitter bot. Felix Jung used Bishops poems to help design Villanelle Bot, which stitches together tweets to create the intricately structured poems it's named for.
In case you don't remember every detail of 11th grade English, a villanelle is a 19-line, six-stanza poem, in which the first and third lines serve as refrains throughout. In addition to Bishop, poets famed for their villanelles include Dylan Thomas, Sylvia Plath, and W.H. Auden.
Vilanelle Bot's poems may not be quite on the level of "Do not go gentle into that good night," but they have an appealing, and occasionally affecting, absurdity nonetheless. One, entitled "Even The Best Laid Plans Can Go Awry," begins with the lines:
A candidate for my soul mate bled.
Made to laugh and made to cry.
Very much dislike seeds in my bread.
Another, called "One Of My Pet Peeves Is Being Lied Too And Played For A Fool," starts off a bit more weirdly:
Damn my cousin been in the shower for a decade.
Wrist wrist wrist wrist wrist.
Up on the boulevard like a zip gun on parade.
The poems are all collected on a Tumblr, and they make for unsurprisingly great reading. Villanelle Bot is far from the first twitter bot to create impressively coherent poetry, however. If you're in the mood for some further absurdity, try one of these four Twitter accounts.
Pentametron searches for tweets in iambic pentameter and then groups them into rhyming couplets. It's basically the Shakespeare of Twitter bots.
This Is Just To Say Bot
This bot takes a more slightly less random approach to Twitter poetry, by imitating the poetic stylings of William Carlos Williams (who you might remember as the red wheelbarrow guy). This Is Just To Say Bot tweets out a new take on the first and last stanza of Williams' classic poem every hour, replacing all the nouns and adjective but leaving the basic structure the same.
Snowball poetry is a form where each word in a poem is one letter longer than the one before it. As you might expect, this bot's tweets get weird fast, and yet they somehow manage to make sense all the same.
This account's bio says it best: "I am a robot /
that finds haiku on Twitter /
made by accident."
Image: Fred Jennings/Flickr