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The Augmented Imagination Project

September 21, 2014

Hi all, and thanks for inviting me to join this blog.

I’ve been engaged in an ongoing computer poetry experiment I call ‘The Augmented Imagination Project’ or ‘AI Project’(!) for short. I see the project as a creative experiment open to numerous interpretations, and no more susceptible to a definitive summary than a poem. But there are some things I can say by way of introduction to the project:

In the AI project, algorithms randomly generate words, which are shown in a randomized fashion in a digital display. Alphabetical constraints can be put on the words to be generated, for example, the constraint that only words containing the letter ‘d’ are displayed. I am currently working on adding further constraints so as to limit e.g. number of syllables or rhyme-endings.

My interest in the project centers on the possibility of exploring the impact of computers on the creative process itself. Unlike most other computerised poetry generators, the AI project is not designed to produce finished poems, but to offer an interface for human-computer interaction whose promise is an enhancement or ‘augmentation’ of the poetic imagination, specifically with respect to its word-generating function.

As I argue in an essay on my website, it is possible to locate this project within a subtradition of computer poetry I call ‘computer-assisted poetry’ (as distinct from ‘computer-generated poetry’) that would include for some poetic experiments by Charles Hartman, and Ray Kurzweil’s Cybernetic Poet software.

I think of myself as having a pluralistic poetics encompassing both avant-garde and more traditional perspectives. Consequently, I have personally used the AI project to assist in writing poetry in a variety of styles, including styles that may not appear in the least computer-generated. (An example can be found here.) This neutrality between a variety of approaches to poetry and poetics is another thing that excites me about the project.

To see the program in action, and my essay ‘Seven ways of looking at the Augmented Imagination Project’ visit my website

I’ve also created a resource site for digital poetics. It’s still in its early stages, and I’d be grateful for any suggestions of links to add to it.

Thanks again. I welcome comments on the project, and will keep you posted on updates.


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