The question begins with: Can AI write poetry? and then of course becomes more nuanced.
This image was AI-generated using the prompt "open mic for cognitive AI robots" using Magic Media, Canva's free AI image generator.
In 2022, some poetry friends and I hosted a creative writing contest that limited participants to two pages (of prose or poetry, or whatever avant-garde genre they so pleased) addressing the topics of technology or robots in some capacity. I admittedly came up with this topic on a whim (like I do many things [crying with laughter Emoji]) but like all whims there are some precursors to their beckoning.
As writers, we tend toward an emotive and intuitive sensibility that often feels suspicious of artificial's intelligence participation in our sport. Composing work requires a human experience, doesn't it? How can a robot share anything unique with the world? How can it draw from real human experience? I would offer that it cannot experience life as human (or experience it period) therefore it cannot produce such works as Kafka's Metamorphosis nor Achebe's Things Fall Apart. However, it can produce original work insofar as 'original' merely means work that has not been seen before.
AI can also produce poems in the voice and style of other writers, just like Steve Harvey can be the lead in a punk band and Joe Biden can talk about his view on cannabis in a way we have never heard him speak. View subjects A, B, and C below.
I used Verse by Verse to write a poem about my pet bird in the voice of Edgar Allan Poe, using the 'muse' line to inspire the rest of the piece. It came out odd, possibly because it requires my input of a single line.
My sweet little bird, she is yellow all around (my line - 'muse')
Beside her side, lest the sweet day beam
Light as a spell in an evil sound--
Ere it grew into an idle dream!
I was prompted to choose from different generated lines to compose each stanza and order them as I liked. I stopped there because I disliked the piece; it sounded confusing.
To be fair, I will try this Verse by Verse again sometime to see what it can really do.
With that said, my position is that AI is better at some things than others and while it technically can write poetry, it does not offer poetry formed through a particular human sense experience. It has no emotion (even if you want to extract that from the words it strings together).
I wonder if the only viable use of AI poetry would be for a student who hates poetry trying to produce a last-minute assignment for English class.
So, I think the question is twofold: 1) Is AI capable of composing a poem? That being a poem defined as a piece of writing that follows a particular style considered poetry. Does it have a rhyme scheme? Does it use imaginative and expressive language? Is it not prose or merely informational text? 2) Is AI capable of producing poetry? Poetry being defined as writing that surges through the human experiences of loss, grief, heartache, and ecstasy, textured by the senses. I argue 'yes' to the first and 'no' to the second.
Playing devil's advocate for the latter inquiry, I would say that considering robots such as the cognitive robots made by Nuera Robotics being developed in Japan are equipped with sensors that mimic the human senses, it could utilize these to create a piece of writing, using information stored in its database like a "memory". That sounds like a flat poem, though. By the way, not surprisingly, the Metaverse is involved in this.
So I ask: Would it be worthwhile to organize an open mic to hear how AI feels about its existence?