Predictive Poetry

I’ve been struggling with writers’ block for the past few weeks, so I’ve been searching for ways to find inspiration in the things around me. One method I’ve been using more and more of late is found or sculpted poetry.

The idea is that you take an existing piece of writing and black out the words you don’t want, so that you’re left with some kind of poem or narrative. It looks something like this:

2013-10-14 13.18.28

I’ve made hundreds of these in the past couple of weeks but I keep getting stuck at the sculpting stage, and finding myself unable to move beyond. I accidentally solved this the other day by bringing technology into the mix.

I was texting a friend the other day. I use predictive messaging on my phone, and accidentally tapped on the wrong word a couple of times. What came out was bizarre and strangely lyrical, so I started using my phone to make little poems. I’d think of a word, or ask somebody to give me one, then restricted myself to only using one of the three top words that my in-phone dictionary recommended to come next. In most cases this was a disaster and made no sense at all, but some of the poems I wrote were interesting.

dither and then delete this

email in error please

notify us by return to work

with the following models

It’s an interesting collaborative process between me and technology, and in particular the in-phone dictionary which has stored some of the phrasing that I use in texts, so this is partly my voice and partly something programmed. There’s also the fact that I’m still choosing which word to use, to a degree. I find the juxtaposition of my own voice with a pre-programmed list of options really interesting.

shine through to me and

my sister in the end last

week last year we have to

get five trains and then

the rest is the best

The other benefit to writing these in my phone is that I then have instant access to them, to edit on my phone or a computer. I don’t always think this is a good thing; I don’t think there’s a sufficient replacement for red pen editing, and rewriting stuff over and over in a notebook, but it’s helped me just now to drag myself out of a rut.

I think it’s important to always try something new, even if it’s a hopeless disaster. Because it just might not be.


About sarahgracelogan

Sarah Grace is an itinerant scribbler and general layabout. She runs a writing group called CAKE.shortandsweet, because any form of procrastination from actual writing is always attractive to the serious author of refined taste. When not distracted by laser pens, Sarah Grace writes novels, short stories and flash fiction, poetry, stage scripts and screenplays. She has performed her work at Stirred Poetry, Bad Language and Tongue in Cheek Manchester. Her first publication, Humping the Boonies is a self-published chapbook available directly from the author, or from Travelling Man, Manchester. You can find more details about her ongoing projects, not to mention a selection of free stories up for grabs right here on her blog. She also likes to talk about theatre, film, books, photography, and especially games and other things that involve collaborative storytelling. Sarah Grace likes feedback, in whatever form it comes.


  1. Pingback: Predictive Poetry – Sarah Grace Logan | The Ozone Attic

  2. Do a workshop. We can all bring our phones.

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