How I love a crowd: Esthetics of poetry games and piems

My post yesterday was an example of a piem — a poem in which the number of letters in each successive word equals the corresponding digit of pi. Many people have tried their hand at this highly constrained art form.

Not all piems are very good. In fact, most are very bad. Here’s one I made up just now, to convince you how truly awful a piem can be:

Now I make a rhyme unsublime.
As poetic verse, far worse.

I hope you are convinced. 🙂

One thing that humans can still do much better than machines is decide what humans like or don’t like. It would be interesting to submit a slew of piems to Amazon’s Mechanical Turk — which is actually a human crowd sourcing resource that vaguely masquerades as AI — and put things to a vote.

Rather than focusing on artistry, I think it would be useful simply to focus on clarity. Can a relatively long piem manage to sound like English — to the point where nobody is even thinking of it as a piem?

There should also probably be different categories, based on the number of words. Word count for a piem is a little like age for a marathon runner: The larger the number, the more impressive the feat.

It’s possible that a few really wonderful longer piems would rise above the doggerel. I, for one, would love to read them.

4 thoughts on “How I love a crowd: Esthetics of poetry games and piems”

  1. Now I need a super thesaurus to select words for ideal longness.

    It is my duty as an annoying pedant to point out that technically, everything we write is a piem since every possible sequence of digits appears somewhere in the decimal representation of pi. =D

  2. Yes I know. I agree. Sequences do always exist.

    One issue persists: massively lengthy computing. And so the location that agrees is always much too far.

    “Existing” and “is useful” sometimes clash.


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