The Austin Chronicle

What Would Poets Say About What Would I Say?

By Mac McCann, November 13, 2013, 2:30pm, Under the Covers

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.

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