If you’re uninterested in background you can simply skip to the poems I made from the tweets of a bot.

Preamble

The Joseph Bloorg Twitter bot that tweets random items from TPL’s digital collections has been live for about three months now.

Bloorg himself isn’t a very complex bot - he just tweets a random item and the text of his tweet (minus the link) is the item’s title as recorded in the item metadata. However, it turns out the library’s metadata is sometimes sufficiently odd (especially for the items from Toronto Star donation, which I think may be being digitized more with an eye to speed than anything else) to make a Bloorg post in isolation sometimes seem like a recombinant text bot or a similar randomness-oriented bot like adr_ebooks.

A few cases in point:

Since I find Bloorg oddly poetic and have a long interest in found poetry, I decided to make some poems from his tweets.

The title of this post references Margaret Atwood’s The Journals of Susanna Moodie, which made a strong impression on me when I first read it in a Canadian literature course and continues to do so whenever I reread it.

Rules

I set a few boundaries for myself before starting:

  • I couldn’t change or remove words, or alter the word order
  • I could modify punctuation and layout
  • if a tweet ends with a truncated word, I could remove that word
  • I had to use entire tweets (no erasures)
  • in this case, I worked in reverse chronological order through the tweets, but that was more for ease of composition

The Journals of Joseph Bloorg

I

Hot wheels
firefighters had already
sprung into action yesterday
when Howard Wolman returned from making a
ring-necked duck

After fatal accidents
to police or firemen people want
to keep the next-of-kin on full pay;
a reader thinks this a royal treatment: Robert Chin II,
student at holy spirit (Separate
School In Scarborough); weighs
a chickadee-enclosed neon flames:
neon-sign maker John Turner is
philosophical about his hot job:
I make my living way.

II

Parliament Library, Ottawa:
One slip by flesher can ruin fur.

Sgt. Vincent Dos Santos of the
Cadet League of Canada
stands on guard while veteran
Dan Dillon honours Canadians
going to pot: Young model depicts
the drug problem prevalent among
youngsters today.

Drug use among youngsters has
endless grainlands; a prairie
farmer looks across the
seemingly endless reaches
of Canada’s breadbasket. But

A New and Accurate Map of
the British Dominions in America,
according to the Treaty of 1763;
Divided into the sever.

III

A souvenir of Brockville,
the beautiful city of the
Thousand Islands, giving a few facts about the
most beautifull Fairy Lake,
Muskoka, Huntsville,
Ontario.

Upper Canada College, 1831-1891,
boarding house, looking e.
from playground:

Souvenir of
Owen,
sound,
Canada; the story
of his brave Canadian Father.

IV

Black-throated diver, a Christmas crown of candles
marking the annual
Lucia Day festival of lights;
19-year-old Anne-Marie Peterson: nous
défendrons le precieux
joyau de la liberté?

V

Atom
Power Stations,
Canada; Ontario; Pickering
Exterior 1980?

Atom
Power?
Stations Canada/Ontario/Pickering
Interior 1980, American falls from Canada

VI

Robert Herald (Toronto),
departs from conventional.

Allan Gardens fountain
spray DDT in Toronto and Sts!

CREDIT CARDS AND SIGNS AND CREDIT BUREAU

Tommies with Tommy guns
now defend the beaches of Britain.
Favorite weapons of the gangster
era in the U.S. explosions

Canada - Ontario - Toronto 1987