Here are the rules:
1. Each line is a commonly-known phrase or expression
2. One word is missing from each phrase or expression, leaving a blank
3. This blank space is down the center.
4. The poem is, in some sense, made of the missing words down the
middle, which the reader infers. These are the "missing words" in the
overall "missing poem."
chance favours prepared mind.
take me to the , drop me in the water.
religion is the opiate the masses.
what's but a second-hand emotion?
I pray to God my to keep.
The missing words are "the river of love makes my soul." Note that
"what's my name?" Could also be interpreted as "What's your name?" in
which case the meaning of the poem is a little different. In this way
the poet can take advantage of the ambiguity and have the reader make
it a bit more his or her own.
Take line two, which is a lyric from the Talking Head's song "Take Me
To The River." Even if the reader didn't know this song, he or she
could guess as to what was in there. She might guess "Uh, ocean?" and
that wouldn't be so bad either, as a missing word. A good poet can
anticipate what a reader might put in the blank if the phrase is not
recognized. Poetry has a lot of reader interpretation regarding what
the meaning of the words are; missing poetry has interpretation
regarding what the words themselves are!
Each missing poem is culture-specific. Someone who spoke English but
was not steeped in my culture might not know the "correct" missing
words, but that's okay. It's okay to make culture-specific art (like a
series of paintings
based on the videogame Pac-Man), and it's also okay for the words
to be "wrong." Thinking of which words might fit, and finding the most
meaningful missing words, for you, could be fun.
It would be really great to have each line have some thematic
relationship with the poem's meaning.
Now, I see an AI application here!
First version: You get a database of common phrases. The user inputs
the intended missing words, and the AI outputs the missing poem. The
AI would suggest phrases for the author to use. In the above missing
poem, I originally wanted "makes" to be "shapes," but I could not
recollect a phrase with the word "shapes" in it. A program could help
Second version: Using some kind of semantic distance, the AI chooses
the best phrases based on the meaning of the missing words.
Third version: The user inputs a theme (in the form of some set of
words) for the missing poem, that might be even at odds with the
missing words, for irony or whatever.
If anyone would like to work with me and program this, let me
know. It's simple enough that it could be done over email. It involves
finding the database of phrases, incorporating some semantic distance
measure (we can probably find one on the web, use LSA, or WordNet or
something), and doing some not-too-difficult coding. If you want to
work on this, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Everyone else, feel free to add your own missing poem as a comment.
Give me your lovin', all your hugs and kisses too.
different strokes for different !