Co-write some poetry with Google AI

Web Log: ‘Poems can be surprisingly poignant and at other times nonsensical’

Poem Portraits is powered by Google AI

Poem Portraits is powered by Google AI


AI is notoriously shaky when it comes to literature and art. Machine learning can produce terrifying images, bizarre dialogue and rubbish poetry. Or at least that is what we think when we expect our art to be human-made – but what if we look at AI-generated creative works as something unique?

This is what Poem Portraits is trying to achieve. Trained on over 25 million words written by 19th century poets, it invites the user to donate a word of their own as well as an image of themselves and creates a one-of-a-kind portrait accompanied by a short poem.

“The algorithm generates original phrases emulating the style of what it’s been trained on,” explains Es Devlin, an artist and designer who worked with the Google Arts and Culture Lab to create this.

'Profoundly human'

“The resulting poems can be surprisingly poignant, and at other times nonsensical. And it’s the profoundly human way that we seek and find personal resonance in machine-generated text that’s the essence of this project.”

There is a collective poem that is a constant stream of generated phrases incorporating everyone’s words. It’s surprisingly readable apart from the odd silly sentence: “A beard of promise is sweet and stern” and “My cheese and child became the battle”.