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Twitter's answer to poetry: @Pentametron

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Ann Hermes

(Read caption) Pentametron finds tweets that happen to be in iambic pentameter (the same meter used by Shakespeare) and matches them to other tweets in the same meter that rhyme.

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@Pentametron is a very unusual Twitter account. Its Twitter page touts its unique purpose: "With algorithms subtle and discrete / I seek iambic writings to retweet."

In an interview with NPR Ranjit Bhatnagar, the creator of Pentametron, explains how it works: "I'd been interested in playing around with the idea of poetry; I was kind of inspired by the exquisite corpse games of the surrealists," he says.

But Bhatnagar is also a self-described "big nerd." So after studying Twitter's API ("the systems that let programmers talk to Twitter"), he realized that there was a way to subscribe to Twitter that would allow him to "receive just an endless waterfall of tweets from them."

Such a prospect might not excite the average person but Bhatnagar, as a poetry-loving techno-type, saw some interesting possibilities in that waterfall. "And what I ended up doing was combining my interest in surrealist poetry and Twitter's API and Pentametron came out of that."

Pentametron finds tweets that happen to be in iambic pentameter (the same meter used by poet William Shakespeare) and matches them to other tweets in the same meter that rhyme. An example: 

good music never makes the radio

I really want a chicken salad tho !

Each sentence is from a different user. Sometimes they are disparate and surreal, other times they kind of work together, like this couplet:

The only journey is the one within.

That's when the flashbacks started to begin.

The program produces about 20 couplets a day and currently has more than 7,000 followers. 


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