By Lori Perkins
So I went to this little horror writer’s convention (Camp NeCon) in the middle of nowhere New England (which I have been going to for three decades) where I was placed on the Artificial Intelligence (AI) panel. I expected to talk about the writer’s strike, and maybe the actor’s strike and found myself enraged at my own publishing industry when I learned that last week (only last week) Hachette, one of the Big 5, had announced that they would be publishing an all AI-generated book of poetry.
So I looked into this.
First of all, the only “mainstream” media that had even covered this announcement was The Mary Sue, so you know they hadn’t even sent out a press release out.
So this “book” was put together by three named (meaning they had the balls to put their names on this and collect royalties) “editors” who would generate 10,000 AI poems and publish the best of them (no royalties there). Noted director and actor Werner Herzog will be reading the audio of these “poems.”
This just boggles my mind and my soul.
Let me tell you how hard it is to get poetry published at a Big 5 publisher in today’s marketplace.
An agent colleague of mine represented a tenured university professor who had put together an anthology of cancer survivor’s poetry titled “In Remission” - good hook, good credentials, right? I called the editors at the major houses who published poetry and they all said they wouldn’t even look at it. One of them explained that each house has a handful of poets and there are no openings until one of them dies.
So now Hachette is putting out this collection of non-human writing that is supposed reflect the inner soul and explore the myriad facets of existence or (according to Merriam Webster) “writing that formulates a concentrated imaginative awareness of experience in language chosen and arranged to create a specific emotional response through meaning, sound, and rhythm.”
Why couldn’t these three “editors” take 10,000 poems written by humans and publish the best of these? Because only 1,000 people would buy the book and they’d still have to pay royalties to real people (although most poets are so desperate to be published, especially by a Big 5 publisher, that they would certainly be happy just to receive one copy of the book - which is what most poetry magazines pay).
This collection of AI words, titled I AM CODE, is to be released upon us on August 1st.
I hope Amanda Gorman and Sylvia Plath’s and Alan Ginsberg’s estates sue the shit out of them (because you know their work was fed into the AI poetry info dump).
I hope the American Society of Poets protests 24 hours a day with clever poetic signs outside Hachette.
I hope no one buys this shit.