AI poetry reveals the truth of the world

Language and the limits of experience

Poetry has long been valued for its ability to take ordinary experience and rearrange it into new forms that provide new and extraordinary insights into the human condition. We think of AI as prosaic and formulaic in its output – but, argues professor of poetics David Nowell Smith, a chatbot’s moment of revelation provides intriguing linguistic experiments that are essentially poetic in character and convey truths from our shared dataset about the world.


Throughout the Western tradition, poetry has been considered as a vehicle for 'truth'. In the oral culture of Ancient Greece, poetry's truth lay in its capacity to memorialise and immortalise events and individuals, from Homer's epics telling the exploits of Achilles and Odysseus, to the odes of Pindar celebrating winners of the Pythian games.

More prevalent in modern poetry is the notion of poetic truth as revelation: the poem attends to things or emotions we might not otherwise notice, and so thro

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