AI-generated poetry for World Poetry Day 2019

What happens when artificial intelligence is challenged to write poetry? Recently, a team of creatives, developers and robotics specialists looked to the work of Sylvia Plath to find out.

Bristol-based business Tiny Giant teamed up with Sharpshooter to train a recurrent neural network — a type of machine learning algorithm — on the poems of Sylvia Plath. They then joined forces with robotics experts, The Handwriting Company, to bring them to life.

The machine-learning model generated hundreds of lines of Plath-inspired verse, which the team’s writers crafted into five unique poems. These were taken to The Handwriting Company at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, who trained a robot on Plath’s handwriting and delivered a penned poem in her style.

“We wanted to see if we could work alongside a neural network to create great poetry,” said Richard Norton, co-founder of Tiny Giant. “It’s not easy to write poetry like this from scratch, but the generated output was the perfect inspiration.”

The five resulting poems, which include Various Weathers and Blind White Bone and Blood For The Ghost, will be performed by acclaimed voice-over actress Melissa Thom at a special event for World Poetry Day on 21 March 2019.

The PLaiTH event, which takes place from 9.30am-11.30am at Bray Leino CX, brings together all of the businesses involved in the project and will see the AI-generated poetry performed live on stage.

“We loved the idea of using robotics to deliver a generated poem in handwritten form,” commented Robert Van Den Bergh, MD of The Handwriting Company. “We used machine learning to train a robot on Plath’s handwriting, and then created one of the poems using her style. I’m looking forward to seeing all five poems performed live on World Poetry Day.”

This collaboration between AI, writers, developers and robots has certainly delivered a wealth of thought-provoking poetry. It’s also evidence of what’s possible when humans and artificial intelligence work together.

Tickets for the PLaiTH World Poetry Day event are available now on Eventbrite.