Computer Generated Poetry

Some of the most creative ideas spawn not from inspiration, but pure boredom. Michael Squitieri (Brooklyn ’14) launched “” after searching the Internet for a means of entertainment. Squitieri, born and raised in Dyker Heights, is a Computational Math major which is a field that incorporates mathematics and computer science.
By Lea Hansen

“The idea began around Christmas time while surfing on a website called, a humor website famous for its clever e-cards,” said Squitieri. “One of the posts on the site was a list of the ‘Top Ten ‘Missed Connections’ ads on Craigslist That We Hope Never Lead to a Connection’.  I found them really funny so I started looking at the missed connections page regularly. While reading them, I discovered that some have a real poetic quality, and I thought it would be great to combine lines from multiple posts to create poetry.”

“Missed Connections” is a compilation of posts from people who saw someone somewhere, but missed the chance to connect and are trying to find them through Craigslist.  Some are hilariously funny, others are inappropriate, and some are simply desperate.  Squitieri wrote a program that randomly pulls together lines from these ads and creates poetry — found poetry.

Found poetry is a form of poetry that requires that the words used be from a text.  The point is to change line breaks and skip words to create your masterpiece.  The New York Times ran an article on  found poems from the “Missed Connections” section, but that was different.  The New York Times was using one post and changing the line breaks, Michael’s program uses all the posts found in the New York City Missed Connections section.

The only problem remaining now was, “How do you make a website that allows people to access the program?”  Using trusty old Google, some open course Harvard classes, and incorporating what he had already learned in computer classes at Brooklyn College,  Squitieri had an arsenal of skills he needed to create a website that would interact with web surfers.

“You’d be surprised how much you learn just from studying already popular webpages,” said Squitieri. For style, he turned to Pinterest, an up-and-coming website that allows one to create a digital pinboard for ideas.  He also created a Facebook page and a Twitter account. He tweets a new poem every two hours; in the future, Squitieri hopes to share his Craigslist poetry through facebook as well.

Is it Found Poetry, or is it something completely new and different? Check it out, and decide for yourself.

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