The robot that discovered a sonnet

From the Boston Globe last week, I learned about the marvelous Pentametron, the robot poet of Twitter. Here’s how it works. The Pentametron is a program written by the artist Ranjit Bhatnagar (a.k.a. @moonmilk). It screens Twitter for tweets that happen to match the familiar five foot pattern of iambic pentameter. Then it pairs tweets that happen to rhyme. The happenstance is twofold, and the couplets that result are remarkably charming.

The Globe article reminds us that this poetic form has a noble tradition, going back to the Dada and Surrealist movements. Art is where you find it, and it depends as much on the attitude of the observer as anything else. But there’s something especially sweet in these fleeting telegraphic messages from the real world, caught in a butterfly net and pinned wing to wing. Try this one:

I always give the pizza guy a tip.
I’m ready for a REAL relationship!

The @pentametron Twitter account has a constantly updated list of couplets. Here’s one from tonight.

Here comes the story of the Hurricane

To this poetic bricolage, I decided to add another layer. Here are some of @moonmilk’s couplets with images I found via Google image search. I entered the exact text of each line and grabbed one of the top images.

Who has a charger for the iPhone 5?
French Bulldogs are the cutest dogs alive

I don’t remember ever learning this…
That hesitation right before a kiss.

Im losing everyone and everything
I wonder what tomorrows gonna bring.

4 thoughts on “The robot that discovered a sonnet”

  1. Too many people stepping over me
    Three hundred seven thousand sixty three

    It seems almost impossible that this is really random beyond just meter and rhyme. I love how in this one the second tweet provides a specificity to the first that it never wanted or needed.

  2. Now I REALLY don’t believe it’s as random as just meter and rhyme:

    When harden gonna let the Mohawk go?
    Carmelo Had a Double Double tho

    Two NBA-related tweets just happen to get paired together?

  3. Well, everything on the web eventually circles back around. Maybe people are intentionally feeding good material to @pentametron. I was thinking of making an @sonnetizer bot account that tweets all of Shakespeare’s sonnets, which would then get scooped up by @pentametron, and…

  4. Infinite typing monkeys would Shakespeare’s plays repeat.
    Ooh ooh, eee eee, aahh aahh, Alt-Shift-Delete!

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