Slice of Life Challenge – March 18 – Open Write with Stefani Boutelier : Using AI to Generate Poems

Hylas and the Nymphs (1896) by John William Waterhouse

Today I’m participating in both the Slice of Life Story Challenge and the March Open Write through Our host at the Open Write today is Dr. Stefani Boutelier, whose prompt guides us in using AI to write a poem. One of the things I fear most is the outsourcing of human creativity and intelligence, but Stefani’s fresh and open approach encourages us to learn alongside it and use it in our lives. You can read her full prompt here. I opened Chat GPT and gave the directions: write a poem about nymphs and goblins on a saltmarsh with green glass beads stolen from the moon. I was thinking about my favorite poem I shared yesterdayOverheard on a Saltmarsh by Harold Monro.

Here is the untitled poem “I” wrote today:

On a saltmarsh, where the mist does rise,
Nymphs dance and play under cloudy skies,
With green glass beads stolen from the moon,
They adorn themselves in a radiant boon.

Their laughter echoes through the night,
As they flit and flutter in their flight,
Their wings like gossamer, delicate and light,
Beneath the moon’s gentle, silver light.

But lurking there are goblins sly,
With glowing eyes and teeth awry,
They cackle and jeer at the nymphs’ delight,
And their mischief causes them much fright.

The nymphs know well to avoid their grasp,
For goblins are cunning and quick to clasp,
But sometimes, in their game of chase,
The goblins catch one in their embrace.

Then it’s up to the others to free their friend,
And the chase begins anew, without end,
Until the goblins tire and flee,
Leaving the nymphs to dance and be free.

So on that saltmarsh, where the moon does shine,
Nymphs and goblins play a game divine,
With green glass beads, a treasure stolen,
A tale that shall forever be spoken.

-written by my AI nymph and goblin friends posing as me, Kim Johnson

Růžena Maturová as the first Rusalka
Special thanks to Two Writing Teachers at Slice of Life

18 Replies to “Slice of Life Challenge – March 18 – Open Write with Stefani Boutelier : Using AI to Generate Poems”

  1. Kim,
    My head sort of exploded, metaphorically speaking, when I read the poetry prompt. I’m curious, when one feeds a prompt into AI and asks it to compose a poem based on that prompt, who is the writer? I like the attribution you gave. Will that stick? Similarly, when a teacher gives a student a writing prompt, and the student feeds that prompt into their brain and generates a piece of writhing, who is the writer? Who gets attribution? Should the students attribute the teacher who wrote the prompt along with themselves? This is the analogy I see to AI. The one who inputs the prompt wrote the prompt.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Glenda, I’m with you on this – – I even mentioned in one comment that commenting on the AI poems has a whole different feel to it. It doesn’t feel like I know style of a writer – I like Mary Oliver. I like Billy Collins. When I need to feel spiritual in nature, I reach for Mary. When I need a good cerebral chuckle where I have to think, I grab hold of Billy. This AI surge scares me to death. We are outsourcing ourselves. Who needs a writing teacher – or even school – when there’s a program that does all the writing and thinking for you???

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Kim, I’m not commenting—at least not knowingly—on AI poems. Life is too short, time too precious, to spend time on that when there are so many real people meeting attention and validation.


  2. I was playing with chatgbt the other day, too, and had it write a poem about a dog that does gymnastics every morning, but I failed to give enough descriptions of said dog, so it took a few iterations before it even resembled Farley’s morning escapades. I’ll look into the prompts, but I, too, am concerned by just how easy (and impressive) the bot makes this process. Way too easy. I like this poem, but I notice that it lacks some of the nuances of the original poem, like the way the nymph had somehow not been afraid of the goblin.
    There are all these new Cyrano connections to the bot issue, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I remember the day you wrote the poem with AI about your dog, and I have had it on my mind a lot since then. That’s why today, when I saw the prompt given to us by Stefani, I thought, “Oh boy, now it’s my turn. Can I do this?” And I did. I stepped out onto the high diving board and made the jump. Now I have to decide if I want to climb back up the ladder and do it again. Since there’s no way to rope it off and keep the craze from happening, I suppose I’ll just cannonball it until I can do the swan dive.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Umberto Eco once wrote of different kinds of thinkers–the apocalyptic and the integrated. This post and the prompt that inspired it demonstrates the latter mindset. While I like the Monro poem better, I extrapolate from Glenda’s comment that AI gets its true creativity from us. Its product has significance.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yes, I agree. I think I’m satisfied that it operates off the specificity of the keywords in terms of its/our creativity. It works quickly, and writes better than most high school writers (which is the scary part – – when there’s not the “need” to be able to write, where is the grit?). You bring the thinking to the table in your always cherished perspective, and I appreciate your reading and commenting today.


  4. Kim, the whole AI concept has my mind spinning. Clearly others have a better grasp than I do. I recently read that literary publications are closing their submissions because of the flood of AI poems. This feels like the death of creativity to me. Feeling very sad, and I will post my poem that I wrote about these feelings at Ethical ELA later today.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Barb, this is what scares me most. I think of that old Broadway musical Starlight Express. Oh, the similarities here to the Older is Better thinking. Help me, I ‘m just not ready for this step into a world without the personal touch of writers. There is value in the fingerprint and trademark style of writing, and not merely using words to get a point across. Thank you, friend, for being in the mind space with me here.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I am posting my response (updated) from the Ethical ELA site when I fist read your (??) poem:
    It’s alarmingly wonderful, Kim. Teeth awry-! What an image for the sly goblins! The AI nymphs and goblin friends are on your side! That very specific input is the key; we get out what we put in. Yet for all this generated poem’s strikingly Kim-ish whimsy…I love your own work infinitely more, where I hear your voice and sense your heartprints. And that is the truth.


    1. Thank you so much for your always encouraging words, Fran. AI definitely makes writing easy – I mean amazingly effortless. I’m generally the among the last to get on the next tech train, so while others are hearing the whistle leaving the station, I’m still thinking about planning the trip and haven’t packed a single thing. Thanks for reading and commenting. I can’t wait to see what Stefani has in store for us tomorrow. I’m glad she is bringing things to light that I have been so reluctant to embrace. I need help getting into the future.


  6. Thank you for blogging about this, Kim. I am struggling here today, with this AI poetry inspiration. (I’m participating in OpenWrite, too, as you probably know.) I am so unnerved by how quickly the AI creates – and I like the reassuring comment above (pfornale) that AI gets its creativity from us. I really loved the original nymph/salt marsh poem you shared yesterday; I felt many different emotions as I read. This one, I was blinded by your admission that it was an AI creation – I’m convinced it is ‘flatter.’ This AI poetry is here and real – I need to get past my terror and consider, how will I use this tool? How will I help my grandchildren to build their own skills, and to build on these extraordinary new tools?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Maureen, I need to follow your lead. I’m bothered by the AI, too, but at the same time I feel the need to keep up with what is happening – – so I am aware of all that is going on in this (I want to say crisis of creativity, but maybe there is a better word)? We’ll hold each other up as we learn more and figure out how it fits into our schema.


  7. Maureen, I was surprisingly stunned at the beauty of the words of the poem generated by AI today, too. I think you, Paul, and Glenda helped put ideas in perspective. I’m really struggling with the idea of the artistry of writing and the intellectual property that I can now claim that I didn’t actually create. This is why I value the writing communities so much….where I’m out on a ledge, the words of friends helps ease my mind and I can begin to see things a bit more clearly.


  8. Kim, the comments here are fascinating. I am not sure what I feel about all this, but I appreciate those who can articulate it here. I wrote about this today on my blog too. I couldn’t stop exploring and writing, but I feel like I will walk away from the pool. No need to go up on the high dive again, except Maureen has a good point–how we can help the next generation “to build their own skills, and to build on these extraordinary new tools.”

    Liked by 1 person

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