All posts by Lisa

#3 A different kind of poetry

I always loved poetry (that was maybe the only reason why I chose German as one of my main subjects during school) – so when one of my classmates decided that she would talk about Pentametron and poem.exe, I was excited. I did not know such as thing as a poem-generating-twitterbot even existed, so I was curious so explore what all of this was about.

Pentametron was the first Twitter account I checked out. „With algorithms and discrete / I seek iambic writing to retweet“ the biography of the account declares – and that is everything the reader has to know. Pentametron basically retweets other twitter users and at the same time looks for matching (in the sense of the rhyme scheme) tweets to create original poems.  Example:

Example: Pentametron

Even though the poems do not always really make sense, the reader can see the vision behind the bot. But to actually ‚read‘ the poetry Pentametron creates I would suggest to simply look at the account on twitter and not following it. Why? Because the account does not post retweets in a consecutive way – sometimes it can take days until a new tweet is retweeted and a new poem is created. Still, up to this day, the account has almost 24,000 followers – and just follows two accounts itself. One is Sonnets, the other one is a William Shakespeare account. So… wanna have a guess on what or who inspired Pentametron? Even though it is questionable whether or not Pentametron is as poetic as Shakespeare’s sonnets, I really like the idea of this bot and what it is trying to create.

But is this really poetry? Real art? Let’s first have a look at the other bot we discussed in class.

poem.exe is different than Pentametron because its algorithm does not „simply retweet“ other twitter users. Instead:

„poem.exe is a micropoetry bot, assembling haiku-like poems throughout the day and publishing them on Twitter and Tumblr. It uses an Oulipo technique based on Raymond Queneau’s A Hundred Thousand Billion Poems. Verses are selected at random from a collection of a few hundred, and a single line is taken from each one to produce a new poem. After assembling a poem in this way, the program looks for seasonal references and uses these to decide whether to publish or reject the poem.“


Example: poem.exe

So while Pentametron tweets one line for a verse, poem.exe is tweeting the whole haiku in one tweet. This makes it easier for the reader to just follow the account on twitter than following Pentametron.
In my opinion, the haiku’s of poem.exe can also be seen as more ‚poetic‘ than the Pentametron-poems, and I think one can notice that the program of poem.exe is looking for references in its created works to see if they make sense or not. In class we compared the created haiku’s with others and we could not really make out a huge difference between the pieces (besides that maybe sometimes the computer-created haiku made a little less sense than the ‚other‘).

But now on to the million-dollar-question: is this art?

Well, we talked about this briefly in class and I still think it is hard to answer. To me, art has always something to do with the emotion of the person or the people who created the poem/the novel/the painting etc. And in the case of the two bots we can say that they do not have feelings they can put into their works. But art is also about the way it makes people feel – the emotions they go through while reading a certain piece or listening to a specific song. And just because I cannot make any sense of some of the tweets/poems Pentametron and poem.exe create – does that mean no one can? I think the question whether these bots can be considered art or not is a question the reader has to answer individually.

Did I like Pentametron and poem.exe? 
I definitely enjoyed exploring the world of poem-generating-twitterbots. But well, I’m still more a fan of the ‚classical poems‘ – but I also started following poem.exe on Twitter – so we’ll see how this story ends.




#2 Hobo Lobo of Hamelin

I had no idea what to expect from Hobo Lobo of Hamelin and I have to admit that I chose it because I liked the name of it. At the second glance, I realized why I thought the name sounded familiar – It reminded me of “The Pied Piper of Hamelin”, a story/tale my grandma used to tell me when I was younger. So I was curious to see if Hobo Lobo was inspired by “The Pied Piper of Hamelin” or if the only thing they had in common was the name.

First Impression

First I had some difficulties opening the website, but after switching to another browser, it worked perfectly fine. I was surprised to find a page with a hand-drawn artwork – in my opinion a nice change to the digitally created artwork we often find in other Elit pieces. I also really liked the colors and the font that was used throughout the piece.

After trying to click on around the website, I decided to go for the numbers in the left top corner to start my journey from there.

As the first two pages of the story had no music or sounds in the background that changed when I started the third page. The (at least to me) classical sound of a night out in the country with chirping crickets, frogs and owls gave a nice ring to the first few slides and matched the atmosphere that was created by the blue-colored story. The chirping was soon accompanied by the sound of a pipe but these sounds just lasted another few slides until they were replaced by a more dooming sound.

While the nature-sounds as well as the sound of the pipe fit perfectly with the blue of the first half of the slides of the third page, the dooming sound matches the red-colored background as well as the images we see in the second half of the slides – besides it foreshadows what happened to the rats that disappeared in the story.


Navigating through Hobo Lobo was really simple – the numbers in the upper left corner made it easy to go through the whole story in one sitting without any interruption. A nice little detail that I realized was the blurring of the numbers after you moved to the next slide, so I always knew exactly how far I had explored the piece. As the different slides are not presented in a full screen mode the text (or lexia) fits perfectly beneath each slide; the texts are usually quite short so they fit on the screen – and most of them do not need any scrolling down to be fully read.

The fact that the whole piece is navigated through side scrolling as well as a lot of elements in the story made me think of a pop-up book.

In the end …

Especially the typography o the whole piece reminded me of old tales such as “The Pied Piper of Hamelin”. Also, the artwork has a classical touch and immediately made me think of the pictures one can find in old fairytale books.
Reading the story, I could clearly see how Hobo Lobo was influenced by “The Pied Piper” and I really liked the sarcastic tone of the piece.

The stars lived together. They danced and sang, ecstatic in their intimacy and novelty…

For our first blogpost in this semester’s Elit class we could choose between three different pieces:

Like Stars in A Clear Night Sky by Sharif Ezzat

Soliloquy by Kenneth Goldsmith

RedRidinghood by Donna Leishman

I chose the first piece by Sharif Ezzat because I liked the visualization of the texts.
Navigating through this piece of Elit is easy – the blue stars (which turn white – I liked that little effect!) serve as the hyperlinks to the different texts. While a few pieces are rather short, some others need some simple scrolling down. Another little effect I liked is that the hyperlink-stars change their position when you reopen Like Stars in A Clear Night Sky – so one hyperlink will never be in the same place you first saw it at.
Another point I liked about Like Stars in A Clear Night Sky is that it starts with someone reading in a foreign language and the stars appearing slowly in the background. The sounds of bells and chirping birds which the reader hears

For my reading I started with “Shall I tell you about my water, which is getting thirsty?” – one of the shorter texts in this piece of Elit. Even though I would not consider it a poem in a classical way, I think the language of this piece has something poetic and metaphors like „But now my water is thirsty.“
The next one I read was “Shall I tell you about the stars, why they respond so slowly?”, again a rather “short” piece. In my opinion, this piece has also something poetic about it.
Next up was “Shall I tell you about my love? She is near to me always.” This was the first longer text I encountered and is rather a very short short story than the first two pieces I read.
I read the remaining pieces and saved “Perhaps I should tell you that the whole world is determined to become my family” for last, because, in contrast to the other titles, it does not start with “Shall I tell you about …” and I thought it could be some sort of starting or ending point (even though to work as a starting point for my reading, I discovered it too late). It is also a very short piece but in my opinion, it can work as a starting point as well as an ending point and it is the only piece that addresses the reader directly “I asked them to keep it down; you are still sleeping in a small room upstairs.”

Even though the texts do not really seem connected at first, I think one can read them as one story, maybe some biography.

Overall I really liked Like Stars in A Clear Night Sky a lot and I think the way this piece of Elit is presented is well thought out.