Predictive Text Poems by Dan Power: Interview & Extracts

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Image by Dan Power

SCAN’s Screen Editor, Dan Power, has only gone and got some of his poems published. I sat down with Dan and we discussed the concept and creation of his ‘Predictive Text Poems’. Some extracts from the book follow…

Hi Dan, what is your poetry collection about?

All the poems are written using predictive text, so in theory they should be nonsense. But because the predictive text software is ‘smart’ and remembers things you say it starts to replicate the way you speak. The poems that come out are kinda weird because the syntax is broken, and the text may be logical for the computer but don’t seem right to a human reader. They’ve also got flashes of human voice and incorporate phrases that I’ve typed a lot. I’ve put in some line breaks to make the poems easier to read and digest. I don’t know what the collection is about to be honest, the poems all end up covering different things because of the nature of predictive text. means it throws up ideas and words just because I’ve used them before. Drinking and wanting to find a partner come up quite a lot, which I guess is revealing. Really the focus is the blending of a human voice with the AI, as kind of an experiment to see whether something generated using a computer program, totally without intended meaning, can ever be meaningful to a reader. Some poems worked better than others. I included a failed attempt at the end to show that it’s not a flawless system.

How did you get the poems published?

It’s published by Spam Press which is basically brand new. The people there print a zine which I love (Spam Zine) that’s full of like aesthetic, experimental, post-internet kind of stuff. I submitted a few things to the zine and managed to get in, which lead to me going up to Glasgow and meeting everyone. I got to know the editors, we became friends, and so when I heard they were starting a press I popped up on Facebook with this predictive text experiment to see if they’d be interested. From then on they did all the work.

What do you see as the next step for your writing?

There’s no money in poetry, so I’ll probably have to get a real job and keep doing passion projects on the side.

What advice would you give to people who want to get their own work in print?

Submit everywhere you can, but be really selective with what you submit. After you’ve written something leave it for like a month or so, so you forget what you were thinking at the time, and when you come back to it see if it still sounds cool. Every time I’m writing something I’m thinking “this is amazing, this is my masterpiece” but then I come back to it a few days later, and nine times out of ten it’s garbage. Also, if a journal is charging you for submissions, unless you really want to get into that specific journal, look somewhere else. Smaller publishers will give you a bit more creative freedom, are more likely to accept you, and most importantly they will be personally engaged with their writers and their writers’ work.

 

and then you reply

Everybody stop
whatever you’re doing
this is v thoughtful and kind
of course there was no
denying that you
are warm and
sunny
here is the first
suggestion that we
can get some actual time
to go where even snow is grey
area with some friends
jeez the best way
is to provide
booze
and years of
experience in this

in my opinion this works

 

addressed to go

today I am a beautiful day

online it was a funky colour
like pink or yellow

flowers delivered to your daughter
and I am a beautiful person

who is looking for something else
if you know what needs to be

today I am a beautiful colour

 

again

are you still up
to no good

again

are you still
up to no

good

again are you
still up to

no

good

again are you
still up

‘PREDICTIVE TEXT POEMS’ is available on spampress.tictail.com/products/pamphlets while stocks last.