“What the heck is this site all about, anyway?” you may ask yourself.
Others have. Misspelled words, an abandoned piece of hardware, and a green screen – what does it all add up to?
I got the idea for Newton Poetry after hearing the term used to describe the gibberish MessagePads spit out from time to time when the handwriting recognition software falls short of its ideal. Then I saw someone had written the entirety of Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky” poem into a Newton, and I though, “boy, there’s an idea.”
So let’s see how I do it.
First, I love poetry. I love reading and writing and literature of all forms. Non-fiction, fiction, journalism – whatever, it’s all good. But since the act of scribbling something into a Newton takes so long, I opted for shorter poetry. Finding short poems is easy, and in this case we’ll use something by a Saginaw, MI (a bit north of where I live in Jackson, MI) poet named Theodore Roethke, a poem called “The Reckoning” from this lovely site:
The next part is easy: just write the poem on the Newton’s screen using the stylus.
I don’t try to tidy up my handwriting; I just let it flow, pausing to read the next line. As I pause, the Newton translates each word.
Sometimes, the Rosetta handwriting recognition software records each word perfectly:
Notice I don’t use punctuation. Doing so only confuses the Newton, and a lot of the dashes and commas translated look like a mess, so I add appropriate punctuation as I type the translated poem into WordPress.
Sometimes I’ll forget to turn the handwriting recognition on. It’s easy to fix. I hit the “A” key to turn the recognition software on, and double-tap a word with the stylus:
The Newton does its thing. Pretty easy, eh?
Depending on the length of the poem, this process can take a while. But I make no attempt to correct what the Newton does. I simply type what comes out into the blog, paying attention to line breaks and spacing, and I always include a link back to the original poem – so readers can check out what the original really says.
Most of this site’s traffic is drawn by the poetry, usually when someone does a simple search for the poem or poet (and, every once in a while, analysis of the poem). I can imagine how someone who lands on this site could get confused, but from here on out I’d like to link back to this process so visitors understand the process.
Through my Newton, I’m rediscovering poetry I haven’t seen since my many English Lit classes in college, plus I’m looking at stuff I’ve never read before. I’ve even searched out blogging poets and highlighted their work here. They are usually pretty appreciative, and seem to get a kick seeing their work “Newtonized.”
If you have any suggestions for good, short poetry, please leave me a comment. I’ll be glad to credit you with the suggestion. And hey, if you write your own poetry, I’d be honored to “vorpalize” (as Carroll said in “Jabberwocky”) your work.
Check back here for the rest of Roethke’s poem, “The Reckoning,” in its full Newton Poetry version.