Is Poetry Safe from AI?

One Poet’s Perspective on the Expanding Creative Uses of AI

Bryce Post
8 min readApr 22, 2023


The other day, I was chatting with my brother. At some point in the convo, he asked me how I felt about Chat GPT and other newly emerging AI writing tools. He’s always been much better at keeping up with more tech trends than me. I can barely keep up with the queues and playlists on all the streaming apps. Which reminds me: I still have a couple more episodes of The Sandman on Netflix that I need to watch.

I didn’t really have a response for him at the time. I think I just kinda blew off the question and tried to change the subject. He encouraged me to make an earnest study of these new areas of technology, specifically because of AI’s continued foothold in creative areas.

According to my brother (and also the research I’ve done since our chat), AI can now create interesting, if not slightly haunting images based on text prompts, copy the style and tone of certain authors (even poets like Poe), write news scripts, and is starting to be used by companies to write content (albeit with some dumb errors) or even kinda sorta give stock market tips.

As a writer, what should be most concerning to me is the idea that people will be able to use AI to write blogs, write a newscast, or perhaps even movie and stage scripts in the future. Granted, AI algorithms are already responsible for some of Netflix’s genre-mashup movies and shows. But to think someone might attempt to use AI for writing poetry should probably have me at least a little worried.

However, I am not.

From what I’ve read and researched, AI can currently sorta mimic other poets (and writers) based on scans of certain poets or writers full or even partial catalogs. It’s not so much that AI is creating original works as it is remixing words from poets and writers that have existed or still exist. I’ve probably simplified some of this info. Even using the word “remix” feels a little reductive and like I’m giving AI too much credit, because DJ’s have to use a little creativity to mashup and remix songs or lyrics, not to mention they probably have to get their permission from said artists they are remixing as well. But I’ll touch on the permission stuff a little more later.

However, the more I read and thought about this, the more I realized that wasn’t the same as someone being inspired to write and craft something. AI can be a good mimic. At this point, all it’s doing is using its algorithmic brain by using certain parameters to be predictive and essentially guess what comes next based on what kind of writer you want it to sound like or what kind of artist or style of art you want it to look like. It’s basically taking art and words from others and repurposing (aka remixing) them.

On his Youtube channel, comedian and guy who ruins everything, Adam Conover eloquently sums up today’s AI writing capabilities.

While cool, I guess, that doesn’t really scream intelligence or creative to me. I think it’s because we humans have this bias towards language and words since it’s the main way we communicate and have communicated for a long long time. Because AI can sound human even though it’s just repeating text in a certain probability, we ascribe meaning to the words behind what it is saying.

Because some of my favorite poets are from the Beat generation, please allow me to share a few quotes and musings from them in order to further my point.

Allen Ginsberg said,

Ginsberg is right. AI will never be able to write anything like what an artist or other creative type feels when their wild, restless mind is swirling with ideas at some time of day. Does AI even know what private thoughts are? Does AI even know what different times of days are or feel like? All AI can do is basically mash up words from different poets and spit them out.

One man who was able to translate his beautiful, surreal thoughts is one of my favorite poets of all time, Bob Kaufman. I don’t see how AI could even remotely copy his poetry or voice. This is because the AI never could or would be able to experience the world through his eyes. Kaufman, who is still a relative unknown in the history of the beat generation, has written some of the most amazing poetry one could ever read. But, despite his prolific repertoire, his name is still mostly unknown, due to his race and the number of times he was profiled and harassed by police (not to mention that white people feel more comfortable with revolutions in which any kind of white people are in charge). Regardless, Kaufman began one poem with something almost prophetic,

The mind for all its complicated reasoning/is dependent on the whim of an eyelid/The most nonchalant of human parts/Opening and closing at random/Spending its hours in mystique/Filled with memories of glimpses/& blinks.

AI can’t process information the same way we wild and unruly humans do. AI will never fully understand that feeling when it’s been raining for 4 days straight but the sun is able to break through the clouds on day 5. All AI can do is basically mash up words from different poets and spit them out.

AI will never fully understand the electric, euphoric ecstasy of making wild, spiritual love for hours in a night. All AI can do is basically mash up words from different poets and spit them out.

Because AI can be anywhere and everywhere, it will never fully understand the rush many of us feel when we hit the road or the skies to travel just so we can get a different experience. All AI can do is basically mash up words from different poets and spit them out.

The reason I mention just a few of these many examples is because of a quote from Lenore Kandel, another brilliant beatnik poet and activist. Here, Kandel explains

AI is basically a blind prophet because its vision is already compromised. For one, it was created by humans. Two, all AI can do is basically mash up words from different people and spit them out. AI is just making remixes.

It turns out that I’m not the only writer who feels this way.

In my research, I read a fascinating article in Fast Company by Alberto Romero about how artists and writers are having markedly different reactions to generative AI. In the article, Romero explains how artists seem to be more worried about AI

“…because text doesn’t rely on style (generative AI’s strength) as much as images. And second, the inability of AI to copy styles perfectly matters a lot with words but not with images.”

I hadn’t thought about it that way, but I suppose it’s true. Because generative AI relies on duplicating and remixing, it’s easier for it to do so in regards to an artist, especially if that artist relies on certain known styles like cubism, watercolors, charcoal, etc. It’s much more difficult to duplicate the certain “style” of a writer because, ideally, each writer’s “style” is somewhat their own (though it probably has influences from past writers). It makes sense then why visual artists might feel a little more threatened, let alone the need to file suit due to AI scraping some of their art. Psst, this is that permission stuff I was talking about earlier. John Oliver and his writers recently explored AI in depth, explaining why certain artists were upset about AI scraping their art and also the CEO of one generative AI company giving a less than stellar response.

It also doesn’t bode well when AI starts scraping the voices of certain singers as well. But now I’m starting to get a little off point.

This isn’t to say that AI cannot write poetry at all. In fact, it already is. If one article in Mashable is to be believed, most people can’t tell the difference between AI-generated poetry and human wordgasms. Shocker, I know. :~P Others, like The Washington Post’s Seth Perlow, argue it’s totally cool that AI algorithms are writing poetry because, and I’m paraphrasing here, ‘is the average sonnet by a human any better?’ Essentially, what he’s saying is that AI poetry is on par with hat of the average person, and that today, because most poetry is “made of paper and ink — or, these days, electricity and light. There is no one “inside” a Dickinson poem any more than one by ChatGPT.”

I understand what he’s trying to say. I agree that nobody is “inside” an AI poem. However, I disagree with him for diminishing the wild words written by a living, breathing human by saying there is nothing inside of that as well. I’d like to think that most people can still feel the difference in words between AI and human. Human words still have weight. Like grains of sand, words may not mean much individually, but if a deft wordsmith hits us hard enough with a sandbag full of meaningful prose, we’ll for sure feel it.

AI will continue to learn. I know some folks will even enjoy the novelty of reading AI poems, books or watching AI scripts come to life. But we as humans will know, even if we choose not to admit it, that the AI words will hit differently, without the weight or force of a feeling. For now, and even for a bit, it will just be a mash up words from different people, spitting them out. AI is just making remixes.

Brycical is a writer, poet and occasional social commenting blogger who writes about a wide variety of topics here on Medium. Brycical is by no means a tech expert. You can find a majority of his poetry on insta or through his website. Feel free to read other articles of his, like why he wrote a bunch of poetry on drugs or his research about the role of women in ancient civilizations. No pressure though, up to you.



Bryce Post

is a writer that always seems to be working on at least five different projects while attempting to share musings and revelations on a regular-ish basis.