For millennia, poets relied upon nebulous and old-fashioned concepts like "serendipity" or "beauty" to connect them with inspiration. It took Walt Whitman entire decades to complete Leaves of Grass. Shakespeare couldn't write unless the moon was tinted a "fishy silver," and Charles Bukowski never produced a verse without first sinking his fingers into a rotted pumpkin. Poetry was slow and inefficient.

All that changes now.

CALAPHOROUS

You click the "write a poem" button. The website gives you a randomly selected vintage horror film poster. You write a poem. Pow. No waiting for God to give you a sign or for the jacaranda to flush with that pale purple your hallucinations are always tinted with. You can even read other people's poems, but you don't have to if you already know yours are very good.

The technical details are nothing special -- poems are just text. I used this project as an excuse to learn some Clojure and PostgreSQL, and it's hosted on Google Compute Engine. You can look at the source code if you want.

What does "calaphorous" mean?

I don't know. I just made it up. It's probably a mood.

How do I write a poem?

I have found that saying what you mean out loud in different ways until it sounds like universal truth can produce poems. You can also pick an accepted structure (like a sonnet or haiku) and work within its conventions so you have less to fiddle with while writing.

But why horror film posters?

Because love poetry, in general, is difficult to do well, and because understanding the inner lives of fictional creatures created by humans to have ostensibly no thoughts or desires beyond destruction takes more effort and creativity on the part of a poet. The easiest way to get better at a creative art is by constraining yourself to work in one dimension or another, and Halloween is nearly upon us. Come. Enter the Halloween dimension.

Are there any rules?

  1. Incorporate the poster into the writing of your poem.
  2. Do not produce evil poems.

I don't like this?

That is not a question.

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