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A Python2 based Backus-Naur poetry generator.

This program works on the basis that every word in the English language is either "positive" or "negative." For instance "lovely" is positive and "thorn" is negative. A "poem" is a group of sentences that are structured in a way to have +1, -1 or 0 in terms of the positivity/negativity. A "mushy poem" is strictly positive.

All the syntax and word choices are in the brain.yaml file (more info about this below).

Try the demo here.


$ docker run -p 8000:8000 schollz/poetry-generator

Now open your browser to localhost:8000!

Changes in new version

  • Use YAML
  • Reverted to Python2 (to use Nodebox Linguistics)
  • Use Nodebox Linguistics for plurality and conjugations (saves much space)
  • Poem dictation (Chrome only)


Follow these commands to generate a poem if you have minimal experience coding/etc. Open up a terminal and use

git clone
cd poetry-generator

Install Python requirements

pip install -r requirements.txt

Download and unzip the NodeBox linguistics package:


And then run using

waitress-serve --port=8000 poetrygenerator:application

Then open your browser to localhost:8000 to see the poetry generator.

About the brain file

Examples of the types of words:

verb-pr = hopes
verb-past = hoped
verb = hope
verb-inf = hoping

Currently you only need to put in the infinitive form, and the other forms will be determined automaticlaly.


I wrote a deployment script for easy NGINX deployment (keep reading). This will install NGINX blocks, as well as a Linux init.d script to automatically start and stop gunicorn.

Edit to change

APP_NAME = 'poetry-generator'
APP_URL = ''
APP_PORT = 8002

or leave the same - its up to you.

Then run

sudo python install

This program now uses virtualenv so it can be deployed with gunicorn. The installation creates virtualenv and downloads the packages. Then it writes a new init.d script and sends that so that it can automatically start and stop. If you deploy, it will also generate a nginx server block so its already to go.

The program should be running and accessible on your LAN network at


Common Error

When you run, you may see the following error:

[....] Reloading nginx configuration (via systemctl): nginx.serviceJob for nginx.service failed. See 'systemctl status nginx.service' and 'journalctl -xn' for details.

To fix this, you just need to enable the server_names in nginx. First

sudo vim /etc/nginx/nginx.conf

And uncomment these lines:

server_names_hash_bucket_size 64;
server_name_in_redirect off;

and now you should be good to go!


Thanks to nylen for greatly improving Poetry Generator, by fixing code and adding permalinks to poems!