Linear L-System Poetry

A textual interface by Allison Parrish

What is this?

This is a weird interface for making poetry using L-Systems. How it works: Paste a source text below, and then write a series of symbols and production rules for those symbols. As you move the "Depth" slider, the interface recursively expands the symbols with those production rules, creating a string of characters. These characters are interpreted as instructions for how to traverse a source text. (E.g., a P means "print the current word and move to the next"; a N means "display a new line.") It's sort of like drawing an L-System with turtle graphics except, you know, with words instead of pictures. Tap the ? symbols below for more hints and tips. Enjoy! (dismiss)

Source text ?

Type or paste text here. This will be the source text for your L-System poem. You can use a text of any length! If the instructions would cause the current position to lie beyond the end of the text, the generation procedure will wrap around to the beginning. Recommended source texts: modernist poetry, political speeches, old LiveJournal entries.

Depth ?

Adjust the slider to indicate how many times the production rules should be recursively applied.

Rules ?

Click in the table below to change the rules for this L-System. Every symbol will be replaced with its production. Here are the recognized symbols:
  • P: Print the current word and advance to the next.
  • +: Advance one word without printing.
  • -: Move back one word without printing.
  • N: Create a line break.
  • T: Print a tab character.
  • [: Store the current position on the stack.
  • ]: Restore a previously stored position.
Put the string you want to start with in the "Seed" field.


Generated instructions ?

This is what the generated instructions look like, based on the rules you input above. The output to the right is generated by treating each character as an instruction for how to traverse the text, word by word.

Output ?

The output of your source text and rules. For best effect, read it aloud, all the while imagining yourself bathed in spotlight, standing in a modestly-sized performance venue, an attractive and entranced audience before you.