A Word Cloud Poem

I just invented a new kind of poetry. Think of it as concrete poetry for the digital age, but randomly created. In working on my new book I wanted to write some kind of text that would add another layer to the images, as I try to do with all of my books.

Now, keep in mind, I am an agnostic. This poem is not me singing the praises. It’s something very different. Here’s what how it came to be:

Page two of my new All Sinners Welcome book features what I am calling a “word cloud poem” created using an InDesign script called Wordilyzer. The words in the poem are taken from the tag lines and sayings on the nearly 200 handmade signs on storefront or do-it-yourself churches that I have been photographing over the last six years. I started out by typing all the text from the signs into a document. The script takes those words and generates a “word cloud” of the most frequently used words. The larger the word, the more frequently is was used on the signs. Running the script is all very random. I can select the font and a few other options, so that each time I press go it produces an entirely different poem. This is what resulted after spending much too much time running the script over and over again until I found just the right combination of words, color, font, size and layout.

So, what’s a word cloud? Here’s what Wikipedia say: “A tag cloud (word cloud, or weighted list in visual design) is a visual representation for text data, typically used to depict keyword metadata (tags) on websites, or to visualize free form text. ‘Tags’ are usually single words, and the importance of each tag is shown with font size or color. This format is useful for quickly perceiving the most prominent terms and for locating a term alphabetically to determine its relative prominence.”

There you go. Studio day today. Something creative actually happened. Praise the lord!

See the new book here.

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