What Would Poets Say About What Would I Say?

New Facebook app gets oddly lyrical in its own random ways

One of the things that I love about poetry is how diverse it is.

Consider Austin Kleon's Newspaper Blackout poems, which start as a page full of words, blacked out one by one until only small poems remain. Google Poetics makes poetry out of Google searches, and William S. Burroughs and others famously used the cut-up technique we now associate with refrigerator magnets to create literature. And, of course, The New York Times haikus are pretty great too.

Thanks to a new Facebook app called What Would I Say?, we have a new avenue of bizarre poetry. The app uses a bot to generate status updates based on your past Facebook updates – or, as Slate's Will Oremus put it, the app makes a "word salad" from all your Facebook posts.

The result can be complete nonsense, or it can be an oddly telling portrait of the user, giving insight into their priorities and pet peeves in a few short words.

I gave the app a try and was pleasantly surprised with the results, which seemed to cover a wide variety of topics and emotions – from politics and Aggies to hiphop and Dallas. Here are some of my #WWISPoems:

• “Sometimes bipartisan agreement is nothing less than grammatical tyranny.”
• “Most people and deception in high places; come home, America. Come home to the Gary Johnson.”
• “Ron Paul will be meeting at the expense of everyone else.”
• “Aggie fans, classy as copy editing!”
• “people are strange they are symbols of racism that we should be making commercials about”
• “What a month arguing that we have a good thing in tomorrow’s Dallas”
• “Because socialism is okay if it’s usually brutal.”
• “They read to escape to a greater enemy than himself.”
• “It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my life’s greatest achievement.”
• “Tuesday, June 18th will be able to inform you”
• “Hiphop and the problem with truth is obnoxiously snoring right now.”
• “Typhoons are opposites; morality ends where women do not”
• “Come chill with your prayers, and with your thinking, with your thinking, with the Dallas”
• “Support our other stuff”

Check out the app by logging in here, and then share your results in the comments below.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Poetry
Book Fest shorts, upcoming readings, and more

Monica Riese, Oct. 3, 2013

Revisiting Poetry in Motion
Revisiting Poetry in Motion
Poetry With Wheels needs help to keep spinning

Monica Riese, May 1, 2013

More by Mac McCann
C'mon Take a Slow Ride
C'mon Take a Slow Ride
Chaos still reigns in Uber and Lyft's wake

May 20, 2016

Filling the Gap
Filling the Gap
In the wake of Uber and Lyft's exit, drivers and riders look for alternatives

May 13, 2016


Poetry, Facebook, What Would I Say, app, Austin Kleon, Newspaper Blackout, New York Times haiku

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle