Write Me a Poem: Poetry and AI (Let’s Discuss!)

Yesterday I posted about asking the new Microsoft ChatGPT to write a blog post about art journaling. I felt a little sad that it could produce a decent freshman essay. But then Amy at https://brotmanblog.com/2023/01/10/time-for-a-break-2/ challenged me to ask it to write a poem. So I decided to have it write poems in the styles of different poets. I asked for a poem about a cat in the styles of Rupi Kaur (who writes simple little ditties that are very popular on Instagram), Sylvia Plath, Walt Whitman, and Luanne Castle (haha). [You see that haha right there? ChatGPT would never do that!]

I am going to post screen shots of the results, although I don’t expect you to actually read them all. But skimming them might be eye-opening as to how AI works.

First here’s Rupi Kaur.

If you know what Rupi Kaur verse looks like you know this doesn’t look like her writing. But there are hints that AI is trying to make this a Rupi poem: “that there is beauty / in simplicity,” for instance.

Now let’s see a Plath version.

Wow, the poem LOOKS the same, but the language is different. It’s dark and sad and somewhat angry. It doesn’t always make sense: “A hunter who leaves nothing dead.” What the heck does that mean? Again, there is no attempt to mimic the form of the poet’s work, but AI seems to have grabbed phrases from the internet and made its own mishmash with a thesaurus.

Here is in my style:

This is quite a change from the Plath. I would say it has a more inspirational tone to it. And some of the language makes me think that AI picked up on my blog posts maybe more than my poetry.

Finally, here is “I Sing Myself” Whitman.

There you go: Whitman’s poem really does sound like an ode to the cat. But same form. All the rhyming, including off rhymes.

Poetry, as we know, tends to be complex, using many poetic techniques, creating multiple “threads.” Poetry can also contain imagery and ideas that are quite idiosyncratic or personal, but rise to a new level in the poem itself. This analysis, if you can call it that, does show me more about how AI works. No way can AI do what poets do.


Filed under #writerlife, #writingcommunity, Reading, Writing, Writing Talk

35 responses to “Write Me a Poem: Poetry and AI (Let’s Discuss!)

  1. Amy

    So the tone changed in each one and so did the language, but overall they all felt a bit like a seventh grader wrote them. In the first it really just felt like prose (I don’t know that poet). Plath definitely was dark, but her poetry is far less prosaic. And the one supposedly like your style lacked the warmth and the way you use language to evoke something not obvious. And Whitman’s felt like a satire of Whitman!

    Now I’m no poet nor a poetry critic, but cats deserve better than these!

  2. All I can say is first, wow.
    Second, I see that I can easily be replaced.
    Good grief.

  3. I follow Retirement Reflections and yesterday she posted something similar. She did book reviews and one was written by the bot. She challenged us to figure out which one. It was hard because book reviews are short, cut and dried. They don’t always show the writer’s style. The poems here were interesting.

  4. Your poem is beautiful, Luanne. “She knows the world as only a cat can.” In her eyes, there’s a wisdom that’s ancent.” I love those lines. Wonderful post!

    • Hi Miriam, I can only take credit for the “in style of.” All these poems were written by Microsoft’s new AI, ChatGTP. So what I think they did with mine is find phrases I’ve written on the internet (probably more blog posts than poems) and created a poem, using a form similar to ballad stanzas, and changing the phrases they found somewhat, even possibly using a thesaurus.

  5. 😂😂😂I had the idea to write a poem in the style of Seamus Heaney the other day, and that was an assignment I’d read in a writing tutorial of how artists often did this and can be great for writers too. 🐱I wonder of our cats are up to something!!! 😀

  6. These “poems” are the worst kind of trite, derivative doggerel. Reading them actually set my teeth on edge. Whoever programmed this bot must have been told by his fifth grade teacher that all poetry has to rhyme or it’s not poetry.

    • But, Liz, how do you really feel about it? hahaha You might be right about the latter. I did end up asking it to write a haiku and then a haibun. At first it screwed up the haibun and we had to argue a bit, but then it produced one. So, Jen Payne (below) is correct: I have been feeding the beast, and I am going to stop!

  7. I hope this strange new world of automated writing will never replace the heart and soul of a true writer’s heart.

  8. I have to say that these knock-off poems made me laugh — especially that knock off of Luanne Castle! “….her fur a luxurious velvety gown….” indeed!

  9. It’s interesting how each poem has some keyword “topics” eg the fur and then expanded on them. As if a child had been set an exercise to describe a cat using five senses…

  10. I think we need to stop feeding the AI machine. Has NO ONE watched Sci-Fi to see how this ends?

  11. An interesting experiment. I liked how your cat poems had more soul, something AI lacks – for now anyway.

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