Everyone suffers from writer’s block at some point, and there are a billion solutions for getting past it. But when someone told me that she runs her poems through Google translate when she gets stuck, I had to try it.
Here’s my original poem:
Halfway through measure seventy-three,
the notes leapt off the pages, bar lines snaking
like ivy around violinists’ arms, sharps chase
woodwinds out of the studio, puncture cellos,
flats pooling in the bells of trumpets,
the theme lost somewhere in the low brass
stranding the movie’s confused protagonist,
still at home in his pajamas, in an impromptu caesura,
watching the rain seep through the sky.
I used Google translate to send it through several languages (English, Arabic, Russian, French, English) and got this:
Halfway measuring mid-seventies
Skipped pages of notes and lines stretching bar
Like ivy around the violin and sharp weapons hunt
Winds workshop cello hole
Apartments to bells pipes
Multi lost somewhere in the low copper
Twist the film’s hero and confused,
However, at home in your pajamas, in an impromptu break
Show rain seeps into the sky.
I was surprised that I actually liked the Google translate ending better. I would never have thought to have rain seep “into” the sky.
Whether you are currently writing poems or you just want to have fun seeing what Shel Silverstein would look like jumbled up, I would encourage you to try this for yourself. You never know what new ways of saying things you can discover.
Want to learn more about Google and poems?
- Google Translate Takes on Poetry by David Zax