Poetry Prompt: Lost in Dictation


This post is part of a series of weekly found poetry prompts. If you have an idea for a found poetry source, email Senior Poetry Editor Beth Ayer.

I recently received yet another free trial of Voicemail-to-Text on my Android device. So for the next month, every voicemail on my phone will also show up as a text message (read: I will not be picking up the phone for the next month). This feature appears periodically, and while I have never actually signed up, the results are so bad (read: great) that I always miss it when it’s gone.

Voicemail aside, there are many options for voice-to-text dictation for both Android and iPhone, which can provide us with yet another way to input text and let a machine shoot it back to us for serendipitous discovery (and some pure nonsense). While there are online tools for generating remixed text, none of them force the computer to actually interpret the source text with such a wide margin of error. If the text is dictated in a normal speaking style (the way someone would leave a voicemail on your phone, say) then the output might be about 50% accurate. At least that has been my experience. Only with voicemail-to-text do I receive messages that begin “Hi Dad.”

So, here’s your experimental challenge this week: read (or sing!) a source text into a voice-to-text dictation tool (this is native to iOS, or you can use Google Voice or other apps like ListNote) and see what you get.  [Note: Search for voice-to-text apps for your given device. If you find one you like, please let us know in the comments.]

Share share the result of your experiment in the comments in all its glory, or take bits and create a poem. Tip: read in your normal speaking style—or any style of your choosing—but do not try to read for the device. Just let it record your voice and see what it picks up.


Top image byy Pérot [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


  • March 14, 2014

    Dan Chelotti

    I’m going to John the road to bed van to the police station papasito if I get that boy to come in the house what it against the law it was against the law so what’s your mama’s so it was against the it on the ground when the radical government when I’m on my way I don’t know I feel that way taking the time but I don’t know where good bad or over the queen of Verona me and Julio down by the schoolyard me and Julio down by the schoolyard couple of days ago to take away the rest of the story is gonna be covered me and Julio down by the schoolyard me and Julio down by the schoolyard me and Julio down by the schoolyard 00

  • March 14, 2014

    Jody Rich

    Now the hungry lion roars–the Wolf, the house,
    the moon–of the heady platinum
    unresolved weary task put on

    how to waste
    bronzed hello. Wamasquid shall,
    switching loud, stretch the lies and one remembers

    the shower now is the time of
    night the grapes all gaping wide
    everyone bloodsport sprite

    church wait hats
    Glinden, we fairies for the triple Hank-tasting
    from the presence of the sun
    following darkness like a dream now frolic
    I’m now so disturbed this Howard
    house sent with room before
    to sweep dust behind the door

    [Source: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act V. Scene II. Punctuation and line breaks added—otherwise, this is the entire gloopy mess Siri heard.]

  • March 15, 2014

    Lewis Oakwood

    A CROW was jelo of the Rave ann,
    because he was co-cidered a bard of good men
    and always tracted the tent o of men,
    who noted be his fight the good or evil
    course of futu re invents.

    Seeing some t-ravelers app roaching,
    the Crow flew hop into a tree,
    and per ching he self on one of the brunches,
    awed as loudly as s-he could.

    The t-ravelers t-urned to wed the sound
    and wondered what it be-robed,
    when one of em said to his cop-onion,
    “Let us proceed on our journey, my fried,
    for it is only the cow of a crow, and her cry,
    you now, is new-men.”


    (Source – Aesop’s Fables, The Crow and the Raven.)

    A CROW was jealous of the Raven, because he was considered a bird of good omen and always attracted the attention of men, who noted by his flight the good or evil course of future events. Seeing some travelers approaching, the Crow flew up into a tree, and perching herself on one of the branches, cawed as loudly as she could. The travelers turned towards the sound and wondered what it foreboded, when one of them said to his companion, “Let us proceed on our journey, my friend, for it is only the caw of a crow, and her cry, you know, is no omen.”

    Those who assume a character which does not belong to them, only make themselves ridiculous.


  • March 16, 2014

    Lewis Oakwood

    An Aunt, going to a river to think, fell in,
    and was married along in the seeing dream.
    Ah, love pitied her condition, and threw
    into the river a sound bow, by means of
    which the Aunt gained the score.
    The Aunt afterward, seeing a man with a
    glowing-peace aiming at the love,
    sung him in the afoot s-harply, and made him
    miss his aim, and sound so saved the love’s life.


    (Source – Aesop’s Fables. The Dove and the Ant.)

    An Ant, going to a river to drink, fell in, and was carried along in the stream. A Dove pitied her condition, and threw into the river a small bough, by means of which the Ant gained the shore. The Ant afterward, seeing a man with a fowling-piece aiming at the Dove, stung him in the foot sharply, and made him miss his aim, and so saved the Dove’s life.

  • March 16, 2014

    Lewis Oakwood

    And scull was steering through the air
    when suddenly it heard the quiz
    of a pharaoh and felt itself astounded
    to breath.

    Slowly its glittered gown to rebirth,
    with its leaf bud pouring out of it.
    The looking-gown upon the pharaoh
    with which it had been versed.

    It found that the craft of the pharaoh
    had been treasured with one of its
    sown perfumes.
    “A mass!” it cried, as it arrived.


    (Source – Aesop’s Fable. The Eagle and the Arrow.)

    An Eagle was soaring through the air when suddenly it heard the whizz of an Arrow, and felt itself wounded to death. Slowly it fluttered down to the earth, with its life-blood pouring out of it. Looking down upon the Arrow with which it had been pierced, it found that the shaft of the Arrow had been feathered with one of its own plumes. “Alas!” it cried, as it died.

    “We often give our enemies the means for our own destruction.”

  • March 18, 2014

    Karen Greenbaum-Maya

    Found poem on Dragonspeak, trying to train the program to my pronunciation.

    I go a little, fall again, but you are here. There is you, meaning a pain, pain and ravine. You are the root of the year. Usually you are here, and so am I. I am in boot camp, easy on you. I love the movie of the June forlorn. I’d utilize one written word (you name it ) in young orange. In pinyu Hang Zhou was written: one. You were one. In Asia, words mean pain. Gone, and here’s to dwell on: breathe together every night, until each breath is his. You know you exude those you lose. A savior shocked into flying will save your new moon. Stay cool and unknown. The flaw in downfall never owned old clocks not Yuma not Omaha not Houston no more. Something clean is in that country. Be gone, safety. It comes to be a symptom. Newfound fame was stones seeking family, compensating soaking sleep of time. It was stones, good enough to say goodnight.

    –published in Status Hat Art Zine, Tools March 2011

    I was reading a French sonnet.

  • March 18, 2014

    Karen Greenbaum-Maya

    Correction!! I was reading back to the program what it was transcribing, sort of a positive feedback loop.

  • March 20, 2014

    Connell McGrath

    You employ the reverse
    prickle at the least look of perceived Ambridge
    every one of the world’s gestures
    you are my younger brother
    with whom I share responsibility for the situation

    our gaming leads to a sickness around the middle
    and shortness of breath
    you always too willing to accept blame for this condition
    which may in fact be out of your control
    I too willing to let it go

    say I have made choices which and eyes wide open to
    even the selfie you took is shredded in the InSinkErator
    I thought we’d remove the motor from

    Florence sure are a certain shifting degree from self-regard
    nice shirt Bel Ami
    laid at your feet

    your feet bleeding from overuse in cheap shoes
    practice deception always and directive
    to make sense of away
    in a safe room
    consecrated by the holy man in the family

  • October 17, 2014

    acne no more download

    Paragraph writing is also a fun, if you be acquainted with after that you can write
    or else it is complicated to write.