Pentametron

One of my newfound obsessions is the twitter account, Pentametron. Using a formula I will never understand, it searches all of twitter and finds tweets (probably) unintentionally in iambic pentameter. Think Shakespeare, “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day” (unstressed, stressed/ unstressed, stressed/unstressed, stressed/unstressed, stressed/unstressed, stressed). The account retweets two tweets at a time creating incredible rhyming couplets from two random twitter accounts. Sometimes the two tweets connect, sometimes they are completely unrelated but the result is somehow always beautiful. Besides being entertaining, Pentametron reveals something larger.
strained connection
People often don’t realize the artistic impact of their words, even if it is on a platform like twitter which isn’t necessarily for artistic purposes. The focus is mostly on the deeper meaning of our words, ignoring how enjoyable the music of speech can be. Pentametron shows this often ignored beauty. It is not immediately obvious,
reading both tweets is kind of necessary, but doesn’t appreciation strong connectionof all art require some effort? The example, “I never pay attention anyway/I’m gonna go ahead and hit the hay” could be lines from a poem. Even though the account users had no intention of writing poetically, they did, as shown by Pentametron. There might not be a connection in “Free stray umbrellas EVERYWHERE today/If only heaven was a mile away,” but maybe there is. Maybe there’s a metaphor in there, maybe something larger is going on outside this couplet, I don’t know. But it makes you think. It makes you consider that it could be something bigger than what it was probably intended to be. Even if it doesn’t mean anything deeper, hearing the meter is enjoyable.
Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 11.54.49 PMThere are so many good couplets and the rhyming alone makes it fun to read. It almost doesn’t matter if each couplet makes sense or not, the inherent pleasure in hearing rhyme combined with the larger impact of finding artistic merit in places where almost no one would think to look makes Pentametron effective. There are some inappropriate retweets because it filters only meter, not language. But the ones with swear words are equally amazing. Some are extremely emotional or just funny. What impresses me is that random twitter users are able to elicit emotion from followers like me. Maybe they will never know what their seemingly simple tweet has done, but they collaborated with another account to create images or stories. Each couplet can be personally interpreted by each follower, there is not right way to read it or definite meaning. “I’ve never even smoked a cigarette/ I haven’t even carved a pumpkin yet,” could be an existential crisis for someone or it could just be a list of Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 11.54.35 PMthings someone has never done. Maybe someone’s perfect night really is turning off the lights and turning on the disco light. Who knows. The point is, words have impact. Intentional or not, every time someone puts words together, whether it is while writing a novel, poem or tweet, readers are impacted. Everyone’s thoughts and words could reach an unintended reader and impact their lives. In the case of Pentametron, the impact is mostly just a chuckle, or occasionally the stimulation of deeper thought. But for some readers, a couplet might really inspire them. In short, reassurance and validation of everyone’s writing courtesy of Pentametron.

Shannon Vail

I am a senior Art History major who thoroughly enjoys cooking, traveling, beagles and Buffalo sports.

3 thoughts to “Pentametron”

  1. The most current poem is, “I love the color black, been saying Durant holding Westbrook back.” Which I really identify with. Anyway, this is crazy! Wait how does it do this? I think I’m equally fascinated at what this account does, and HOW it does it. Like what program can find iambic pentameters? (I suck at these, like literally the only thing I really cannot do. I rather try my hand at mechanical engineering).

    It’s interesting that we’re interpreting these differently. For instance instead of seeing it as people writing poetically unintentionally I think of it as finding poetry within words. So the words themselves aren’t unintentionally and innately poetic. Maybe I’m really attached to the beauty in that, rather than the beauty in finding something innately poetic. But the idea of arbitrary organic synthesis is inspiring. It reminds me of the cut up activity we did at the beginning of the year.

    It’s also interesting to think about the purpose of this page. Like obviously twitter is for information and entertainment. But there are certain segments of twitter that gets to. Its also interesting that the organization of the digital rhetoric exists within the tweets itself, except for which tweet goes first.

    I’m so glad you shared this with us though, it’s strangely amusing. I wonder if its something inherent about iambic pentameters. Like if it was another rhyme scheme (this is wrong isn’t it? I know nothing about poetry), it may not be as fun. But I guess twitter lends itself to this patterning. That intersection of the constraints of one medium and the constraints of a genre.

  2. This is so cool! I’m following this ASAP. For some reason, I love stuff like this. It reminds me of the cut-up activity because so many people were able to put together sentences together from unrelated parts of their source.

    This also reminds me of a Twitter that will Tweet out silly lyrics from songs with an “inspirational” background (like the Northern Lights or the Rocky Mountains) behind it. It always creates a hilarious juxtaposition between the photo and the silly lyrics.

    Thanks for sharing!

  3. This is so amazing!
    Imagine being one of the people whose tweets get featured, pulled up from the depths of the twittersphere. Almost a bit sobering, to be honest. It’s easy to forget how potentially wide your audience is online.
    Still cool though. I like what you said at the end there about inspiration. This account seems like a good thing to follow to help get past writer’s block.

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