Auto-Suggestion Poem #1 (NaPoWriMo 2016)

One of my favorite poetic exercises has always been found poetry, where you take a piece of prose text and attempt to transform it into poetry by adding line breaks and playing with spacing, etc. I love how this exercise highlights the importance of rhythm, scansion, and the layout of text in creating a poetic work.

(For arguably the best example of found poetry ever, check out Hart Seely’s collection, Pieces of Intelligence: The Existential Poetry of Donald H. Rumsfeld.)

Lately, I’ve had it in my head to try a modern technology equivalent of found poetry:

Auto-suggestion poetry.

You can use the auto-suggestion feature on your smartphone or tablet to generate a block of text for you to transform into a poem. In my case, I opened the “Notes” app on my iPhone and created a new note. The auto-suggestions started popping up right away and I chose to always select the middle term. Alternatively, you could choose to select the left or the right term each time, or whichever suggested term is most interesting. You can even let yourself type a word or two, every now and then, to change the kinds of suggestions you’re getting.

You can make the exercise as restricted or as free-form as you want.

Once you have the amount of text you want to work with, experiment with line breaks, spacing, even minor editing of the text itself (again, depending on how strict you want to be), and turn it into a poem.

Here’s my first attempt at an auto-suggestion poem. For this attempt, I always selected the middle suggestion, I typed no words directly, I added punctuation, and I allowed myself to delete small bits of the generated text that I didn’t like.

I think it has a bit of a Beckett-like feel to it, which I appreciate.

Auto-Suggestion Poem #1

The fact I can see you soon as possible
Are you doing it wrong?
That I’m going back
And I have a great way of saying
It would mean so
So happy to see my tweets
And you have a great way of saying
It would mean so
So happy to see my tweets
And you have a great day for a few years
Back on track, you want me too
I think it’s time for me
And I have a great way of life and death

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