A few months ago, I was part of an AI poetry project, which culminated in an article in Topeka Magazine – It’s Not a (Beep! Beep!) Poet (and it doesn’t know it).
The project team included me, a professor, the current poet laureate of Kansas, and a local writer. My part was fun! My job for the project was to use ChatGPT and generate some AI-written poetry.
You’d think that would be easy, right? Just prompt ChatGPT to “write some poetry” (which it can do). But we were a bit more specific than that. We wanted six poems, which included a sonnet, a sestina, and some Kansas prairie focused poems. Some of these poems would be based on sample poetry that I inserted into ChatGPT as examples to mimic.
This was a bit more challenging that you’d think! ChatGPT seems to like structure quite a bit. It had (mostly) no problem with the sonnet or the sestina poems; both of those have a very specific structure to them.
ChatGPT was also good at knowing that you wanted to write something about Kansas, and pulling out the things you’d normally think of about Kansas. It could find “Kansas-y things” pretty easily.
The difficulty came from finalizing the poems. ChatGPT had trouble creating a specific number of lines for a poem. For example, if I asked for 30 lines of verse … I’d get 20. Or 50. Then I’d prompt ChatGPT to cut that down to 30 lines, and it would cut too many (or not enough). I finally had to resort to asking it to “supply 10 more lines of poetry” and things like that.
We also wanted some contemporary non-rhyming verse on some of the poems. That was hard – ChatGPT is positive that poems should rhyme, and kept providing rhyming lines of text, no matter how many times I asked it to not rhyme.
But I was able to provide some poems for the group to examine. Were these great poems? Nope. Would they get a passing grade in a high school creative writing class? Probably so.
Will AI creative writing improve? I’d guess so – let’s give it five or so years, and see where it is then. In the meantime, please read the article. Even better – experiment with more creative AI projects on your own, and see what happens!