Friday, March 16, 2012

Poetry Friday: Rhapsodic for Robotics

This week is a momentous one in the Shovan household. It is the first time that one of our children is in a different time zone from the rest of the family. Many of you mom and dads know how strange that feels.

Our fifteen year old son, Robbie, is with his school robotics team in Omaha, Nebraska. They are competing in the Vex National Championships.

I rose at 3:30 Thursday morning to get him to the airport for a 6:50 AM flight. There was drama, of course (the forgotten wallet, the rest of the team's late arrival at Dulles). But, the team and their two robots arrived in Omaha, on time, on the same plane.

To help cheer on the team, I am rhapsodizing about Robotic poetry today.

First, some robot poems for elementary schoolers:

My Robot's Misbehaving

by Kenn Nesbitt (author of My Hippo Has the Hiccups)

My robot's misbehaving.
It won't do as I say.
It will not dust the furniture
or put my toys away.

My robot never helps me
with homework or my chores.
It doesn't do my laundry
and neglects to clean my floors.

It claims it can't cook dinner.
It never makes my bed.
No matter what I ask of it,
it simply shakes its head. 
Read the rest at Kenn's site, Poetry4Kids.com.  
My Robot
by Gareth Lancaster
My robot must rate as my favorite toy,
A wonderful, whirring, mechanical joy.
My robot can talk, but he'd much rather sing,
Or go to the park and play on the swings!

My robot is silver and very astute.
For instance this week he was learning the flute.
The "sweet" ending is at Fizzy, Funny, Fuzzy: Fun Poetry for Kids.  

For middle schoolers who are into technology, robots, and maybe poetry, here is one to make you think. (It's a bit smaller to preserve the line breaks.)

And here is a robot reciting Ogden Nash poetry. It recommends some additional poetic reading. There's nothing like a robot saying, "Have fun," to make you feel a sense of joy and playfulness 
(kidding).



Robot Poem
by Christine Howey

This poem was written by a robot.
Do not be afraid.
Okay, now you’re reading these words in that funny voice all     humans
use for robot voices, the droning nasal monotone.
This…po...em…was…writ...ten…by…a…ro...bot.
Please stop doing that.
It’s really kind of insulting.
Robots don’t sound like that anymore.
Okay, now you’re noticing that a lot of the lines are short and clipped,
like you expect robot language to be. But in reality, it’s quite easy for a
robot to embroider looping and complex sentences, such as the one
we’re in now, with many subordinate clauses, and never, as you say,
miss a beat.
This is because robots can now sneak in through small cranial
openings, take a sample of human brain tissue, no bigger than half a
postage stamp, and use that neural material to make full-size 3D
replications of the human brain.
Even a poet’s brain.
We use a copying machine.
We Xerox your brains and then write poetry.



For high school poets, a book I want to check out:

Robot Haiku: Poems for Humans to Read Until Robots Decide It's Kill Time, by Ray Salemi. (I'm guessing no real haiku were injured by robots in the writing of this book.)



And you can find a long poem/short play, "Death and the Robot
Powers," by Robert Pinsky at the Poetry Foundation.
 
We are excited that Robbie has this great opportunity to meet and talk robot with other tech-minded kids. He's really enjoying being on the team.

Here's an animation showing what the robots must do to earn points:

 

However, I'd have to be a robot not to miss him. How about cheering myself up with some poetry? Our Poetry Friday host is Gregory K. at GottaBook.

9 comments:

Myra Garces-Bacsal from GatheringBooks said...

What a beautiful post, Laura! I am sure that your son must have loads of stories to tell when he comes back home. My ten year old daughter and I (and husband of course) are revisiting Star Wars, so this post reminded me of R2D2 and C3PO. :) Lovely robot poems. :)

Author Amok said...

Hi, Myra. Thanks! I especially like Howey's Robot Poem. "We Xerox your brains and then write poetry." I think, as a follow up, I'm going to gather a few of the online "automatic" poetry generators and give them a test run.

Liz Steinglass said...

Thanks for sharing. You've got a robot for everyone!

Robyn Hood Black said...

What a fun post! Thanks for sharing. (I can't stop hearing words in my head in clipped, robot monotone despite the poetic enlightenment above...) Best wishes to your son and his team!

Katya said...

This is really awesome! Thank you for sharing these robot poems.
I am a little creeped out by the idea of the robots stealing postage-size pieces of my brain... but that might explain why I seem to have less and less of it every year.

Author Amok said...

I'm glad you like them, Katya. And I know how you feel about the brain! Your comment made me laugh :-)

Off to watch the webcast -- Robbie's team is up soon. NASA is broadcasting. Very exciting!

Tara said...

What fun...who knew that there was all this wonderful robot poetry! How exciting for your son to be at this competition - and how wonderful that you can be a part of it from home.

Tabatha said...

Good luck to Robbie! Your kids do such interesting stuff, Laura. I had no idea there is such a wide selection of robot poetry. Thanks for sharing it.

Mary Lee said...

Who knew there were so many robot poems at all levels?!?! Best of luck to your son and his team -- what an opportunity!!