What is the Poetry Genome?
So, what is a Poetry Genome, and how on earth does it help us teach new poetry techniques to teens? Our Poetry Genome is a tool that uses Machine Learning to generate a percentage comparison between our users and various famous writers, based on theme, style, and content of the poems posted on our site. Both classic and contemporary writers are represented in different sections of our Genome (including famous rap artists).
The Machine Learning tool absorbs the poems we've entered as reference from each famous writer and creates an algorithm to determine how similar they are to any poem on the site. It then pick out the top three writers' works the poem most resembles, with links to detailed famous poet profile pages. And it's smart — the more poems it reads on the site, the better the Genome gets at figuring out the similarities between the poetry techniques of our users and those of various artists.
How to Teach New Poetry Techniques with the Poetry Genome
When you click on a writer you've been matched with on our site, you're linked to a profile page that outlines additional information about that writer's background and writing style. You can learn more about prevalent themes in Claudia Rankine's work, or the literary devices used most often by Chance the Rapper, and consider any parallels you can draw to your own writing.
When your classroom or workshop students post a poem on PowerPoetry.org and test out the Genome, you can provide the following questions and assignments to help them explore similarities with matched writers and try new poetry techniques:
- Write a poem that centers on one of the prevalent literary themes used by their matched writer
- Write a poem using one (or many) of the literary devices and poetry techniques common to their matched writer
- Read 3 published poems or raps by their matched writer and write a poem that mimics that writer's style
- Re-write one of their own pieces (or a famous poem) in the style of their matched writer
- Research the poetry movement that their matched writer belongs to (not applicable to matched rappers)
- Write a poetry analysis of a published poem/rap written by one of their matched writers
These may seem like simple exercises, but all it takes is an engaging prompt to spark creativity and imagination in young writers. We're so excited about the Poetry Genome precisely because it offers amazing learning and teaching opportunities for teen poets; poetry is a powerful form of expression, but its deeply personal nature and traditional modes of analysis create significant barriers to educators trying to make poetry appeal to young students. We believe that the Poetry Genome offers a way to make both poetry and poets relatable to young writers — by comparing the works of famous poets and musicians to their own poems, we elevate teen writing to the level of well-known works. We encourage young poets to have faith in their own skills, and provide them with the confidence to try new poetry techniques, research new role models, and find new inspiration.
Our site is full of resources to help teachers bring poetry to the classroom and foster creative communities. Explore our resources, action guides, or online poetry groups to get started.