Confusing The Machines With My ChickenScratch Writing

HandScratchPoemDraft

I had taken and uploaded an image of a piece of paper where I had been handwriting a poem (read Little Geometry) through the day last week after watching a student catch a snowflake in her hand.

I’ll be the first to admit that my handwriting is nearly indecipherable to others (my 10 years as a newspaper reporter is to blame, I always say, although that work in making quick notes while interviewing people probably just exasperated a situation already in place). Sometimes, it’s indecipherable to me, particularly when writing songs.

Looking at the image, I saw that the Google Photos app, after I had taken my picture on my phone, was prompting me with the question of, Did I want it to grab the text from the image? (off the picture of the paper where I had been writing). Google Photos wanted to see what I had written. I had seen this option before for other images but always ignored it.

This time, I clicked forward.

First, it’s interesting (alarming? useful?) to think of technology taking words turned static in an image and reverse-engineering it back to text. Second, I was curious. What would this bit of AI make of my writing? Well, clearly, it couldn’t make heads or tails of it all.

Google IA Read My Poem (Good Luck With That)

Here’s Google’s translation (for those following long, these are words from the digital image from the words from the paper):

*
Time Crompt to tet
27 nguose rene lost dre Sigte Slet
Snowfla
fost from the group. •SshVodillingen har ontratis hand linmented Time – lost in in mont
Slow motion tabler
we nover
Herliften/on -Sketa do un lu e

Interesting …. nonsense. Good luck with that, Google. Which, you know, I’m pretty OK with. If my style of writing eludes the AI overlords, then maybe Poets will have a chance of resistance when the machines continue to take over the world.

Viva Poetic Revolution!

Peace (scratching it out),
Kevin

Slice of Life/Day in a Sentence: The Books They Choose

(The Slice of Life Challenge in March is hosted by Two Writing Teachers as way to encourage teachers-as-writers. You can join in, if you want. There is also a monthly call for Slices on Tuesdays. You can write then, too)

I do love it so very much when I get a chance to see the choices my students make for the books they want to be, and are, reading.

Peace (in pages),
Kevin

 

Slice of Life/Day in a Sentence: The Pickleball Crew

(The Slice of Life Challenge in March is hosted by Two Writing Teachers as way to encourage teachers-as-writers. You can join in, if you want. There is also a monthly call for Slices on Tuesdays. You can write then, too)

We ended our play back when the days became so short that night fell nearly right on the end of the work day but we picked up our paddles again this week, and reset the net, as the hopeful days incrementally stretch the light further into late afternoon hours.

Peace (and Pickleball with friends),
Kevin

Slice of Life/Day in a Sentence: We Do Have Fun With Words

(The Slice of Life Challenge in March is hosted by Two Writing Teachers as way to encourage teachers-as-writers. You can join in, if you want. There is also a monthly call for Slices on Tuesdays. You can write then, too)

Words in a Cloud 2021

Give them a chance, and young writers will invent words that will spark your pondering and set you guffawing, and make you wonder where our language might yet be heading.*

Peace (invented and spoken),
Kevin

*This is the 17th year that my sixth graders have been building an online collaborative dictionary of invented words. It’s part of a unit on word origins. Each year, every student adds a new word, and their voice (through audio file), to the dictionary. It’s just one of those annual rituals that keeps moving forward …

Listen to this year’s voice collection.

 

Slice of Life/Day in a Sentence: Why, Indeed

(The Slice of Life Challenge in March is hosted by Two Writing Teachers as way to encourage teachers-as-writers. You can join in, if you want. There is also a monthly call for Slices on Tuesdays. You can write then, too)

Why am I spending so much of my free time refreshing government websites that don’t seem to function right in order to find a scheduling spot on a calendar that doesn’t seem to have openings for a vaccine that may not yet be in abundance enough to be readily available?*

Peace (refreshing it often),
Kevin

*Our school is coming back full, in phases, starting next week with my grade. That’s one reason why.

Slice of Life/Day in a Sentence: From Poem to Words to Color to Notes to Music

(The Slice of Life Challenge in March is hosted by Two Writing Teachers as way to encourage teachers-as-writers. You can join in, if you want. There is also a monthly call for Slices on Tuesdays. You can write then, too)

Sometimes when creative inspiration hits — like how words of a poem might be translated into color, and how those colors might be translated into music — it’s best to dive in and ride the wave all the way to the end.

Peace (deep in the key),
Kevin

PS — This project essentially takes two lines from a 106-line collaborative poem, turns those words into color with a tech font tool that my friend, Wendy, found and then turns those colors into musical notes, which I then played on keyboard in a software, using an avante garde /new music style of playing, while later adding layers of sounds to expand the composition.

 

Musical Slice of Life: Tuned Into Open

(The Slice of Life Challenge in March is hosted by Two Writing Teachers as way to encourage teachers-as-writers. You can join in, if you want. There is also a monthly call for Slices on Tuesdays. You can write then, too)

I will often have stretches where I am writing lots of songs and the ideas are everywhere. Then there are the fallow times, when nothing seems to be flowing in any certain direction. I’ve learned to be patient — that the songs will still come. But I have also developed some strategies — pick up another instrument, try a new loop pack, or tune my guitar into another key.

That’s what I was doing yesterday — exploring open tuning on my guitar and this little sequence of riffs began to play out. I like open tuning now and then because of the space it creates on the fretboard.

This piece is short but long enough to remind me that music is all around, even if sometimes you need to approach it, slant (as Emily D might say). The title is merely a hopeful gesture of wording  …

Peace (sounds like),
Kevin

Dance Remixing a Collaborative Audio Poem

(Wendy used Google Docs to track when words were written, and where, for the poem. I did a slight remix on the image she shared, giving lateral movement to the tracking lines.)

When the audio quilt of our DS106 Collaborative Poem was released, Wendy and Sarah suggested that people consider a remix of the file. That’s like music to my ears. But what to do?

I decided to pull the audio file into a site called The Wub Machine, which is limited but does interesting things with audio files, in different musical genres. Sometimes, the original gets completely lost.

I tried it out, just out of curiosity, and then I worked through a few different genres — Trap, Dubstep, Country, Bass/Drums … hearing pieces of each track that sounded good as parts, but never great as a whole. What the heck — I opened up Audacity and began to remix the remix, weaving a few pieces and beats from different Wub-ed version tracks together, and that’s when it began to come together in an interesting way.

Weird, but interesting.

What holds it together is the voice at the start, and then its repeating refrain as well as the very last words one hears in the track. The shifts in beat to pull back at times, and leave some musical space for the chopped up but rhythmic vocals of the narration track to come to the surface became another kind of woven thread. I’m sure not every voice got into the mix, but it found its groove.

Be cool if this dub got transformed into a video remix … just saying: you’re invited.

Peace (tapping toes to it),
Kevin

Slice of Life/Day in a Sentence: In That Moment, A Poem

(The Slice of Life Challenge in March is hosted by Two Writing Teachers as way to encourage teachers-as-writers. You can join in, if you want. There is also a monthly call for Slices on Tuesdays. You can write then, too)

In the moment in which that solitary snowflake landed in her outstretched hand, as if she were capturing a bit of loosened magic from the sky, the start of a small poem, too, tumbled into my head.

HandScratchPoemDraft(A draft started in freewrite time with students, revised during the day)

Peace (falling),
Kevin

Little Geometry

One single silent
snowflake, loose
– a goose lost from
its group – slow-motion
tumbler

Its landing softened
by her outstretched
hand: melted time

then, her lips
on skin
on ice
on sand

We’re lost in a
moment we may
never understand