I vaguely remember signing up as a beta user for Google’s NotebookLM AI experiment but then forgot about it until an invite came in my email yesterday. It’s still a bit funky in its workings but the general idea is that it uses Google Bard, with up to 10 texts that you can upload or paste into its system for inquiry.
You can then do questions or analysis or creative activities across all the texts (or just some, if you decide to uncheck the texts), engaging in a sort of conversation with the various texts. (Honestly, I thought it was going to have more features and I believe it will, as what is there right now didn’t seem too revolutionary to me).
I tinkered a bit, and then thought: I’ve been enjoying reading the poems of my friend, Terry Elliott, so why not use his three most recent poems. I pulled them in, and began a session of interrogating his poetic texts. I explored theme.
Then, I explored imagery and common phrasing and words.
I asked the Notebook to tell me what Terry hoped I was hearing in his poems. This was the most interesting part of my experiment, I think. It gathered phrasings and explained what it thought Terry was trying to say. I’m not sure how true it is but it gave me things to ponder, and forced me to look deeper at the poems (which is the whole point of what I was doing here — allowing technology to help me see the poems in a different slant).
I also turned each poem into a haiku (the results are just “meh” in my opinion).
**The following is a haiku translation of the first poem:**
**Future is dawning**
**Make poems to see it**
**Fete vos jeux**
**The following is a haiku translation of the second poem:**
**Alone with the trees**
**Be fluid and free**
**Let the leaf fall**
**The following is a haiku translation of the third poem:**
**Be a lighthouse**
**Sharing what you have found**
**Surprised by your mind**
I asked it to write a play skit, with a poet talking to the reader, and it came out robotic and just weird – no nuance. I asked it turn that play into another one, but with a pirate theme (with hat nod to Tellio of the Olden Days of CLMOOC) of a captain talking to a sailor, and the notebook just completely and utterly ignored Terry’s poems entirely. (The nerve!). I had it write a letter to Tellio, the poet, on the issue of dreaming and the future. It was fine, and very informal in tone.
I asked it to make a Cinquain, using words from all the poems, with TERRY as the letttering. Fail. But intriguing anyway as a small poem.
**Fluid, free, visceral**
**Making sense, redrawing maps**
I asked it to write a short essay, using the text of all three poems, on the topic of hopefulness, a theme it had identified across the poem collection.
**The Tree Poems: A Source of Hope**
The two tree poems that we have read, “Imagine Your Future” and “What It Takes More or Less,” offer a source of hope in the face of uncertainty. The poet’s message is that we can find hope in the natural world, and that by connecting with nature, we can find the strength to face whatever challenges come our way.
In “Imagine Your Future,” the poet writes about the importance of dreaming and creating. She encourages us to “make and make and make” our own futures, and to trust that our efforts will be rewarded. This poem is a reminder that we are not powerless to create our own destiny. We can make a difference in the world, and we can build a better future for ourselves and for our children.
In “What It Takes More or Less,” the poet writes about the importance of being present in the moment. She encourages us to “be alone with the trees” and to “be visceral.” This poem is a reminder that we need to take time to appreciate the beauty of nature and to connect with our surroundings. When we are present in the moment, we are less likely to worry about the future or to dwell on the past. We can simply enjoy the present moment, and find peace and happiness in the natural world.
The tree poems offer a source of hope because they remind us that we are not alone. We are connected to the natural world, and we can find strength and inspiration in nature. When we are faced with challenges, we can find comfort in the knowledge that we are not alone. We can find hope in the beauty of nature, and we can find the strength to face whatever challenges come our way.
I could go on.
It’s imperfect, as Generative AI often still is, but the ability to engage with multiple texts in one place (one notebook) has a lot of potential, perhaps. A significant drawback (for now, in beta) was that it didn’t seem to have save my work from session to session (I am sure that will get fixed). But I also noticed at one point that is stopped using one of Terry’s poems in responses to my questions.
Peace (in explorations),
PS — Terry gave me permission to share this AI work on his poems