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Sunday, August 9, 2015

Writing Life: The Random Poetry Generator


For a long time, now, I’ve been writing poetry, and it never ceases to amaze me how many different types of poetry there are. Now, my poetry does not always come spontaneously. If I waited for that to happen, I wouldn’t fill my annual collections or anthologies on time, so there are days when I sit down and say “I’m going to write 10 poems today.”

I’d like to tell you that it got easier over time, and it does, but it doesn’t. Some days the poem is waiting to come out—and those are the ones that are either wonderful, or need the most editing. And, some days, you have to fight for every word, and those ones are either wonderful, or need a lot of editing. Most days, however, the poem arrives shortly after you type the first line and has enough momentum of its own to keep going.

I like those days. Some of my best work comes from those days. For the difficult days, however, the days when I’m tired, or don’t feel like writing poems or whatever, I needed a little help, and that’s where the poetry generator comes in. I wrote down all the kinds of poems I had learned how to write and then I wrote down a list of subjects, and then I rolled percentile dice. This limited me to a hundred, so, for areas where I have more than a hundred, I made multiple columns, and numbered those. So, my generator involves me rolling three lots of dice: one for the poem type, one for topic column and one for the actual topic, and I take it from there.

And then there are the days, when I just look out the window and start typing the first thing that comes to mind. It’s not easy writing poetry this way, but it does drag some unexpected feelings and musings from your subconscious. Try it; the results can surprise you.

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