PoetiX is a completion in computer-generated sonnet writing. The rules for this competition are as for DigiLit, but for sonnets. While, there are many forms of sonnet, for the purposes of the prize we are considering only “traditional” sonnets: fourteen line poems, in iambic pentameter, in either “Shakesperean” or “Petrarchan” form. The former is further characterized by an “abab cdcd efef gg” rhyme scheme, and the latter as an octet of rhyme scheme “abba abba” followed by a sestet with no fixed form. To read more about the sonnet form, see: http://www.sonnetwriters.com/definition-of-sonnet/, http://www.english.illinois.edu/maps/sonnet.htm, and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonnet.


Here is a sonnet from Marjan's prize-winning work (that Joe Palca read at DAX on May 18th after generating it with the prompt "wave"):

People picking up electric chronic.
The balance like a giant tidal wave,
Never ever feeling supersonic,
Or reaching any very shallow grave.

An open space between awaiting speed,
And looking at divine velocity.
A faceless nation under constant need,
Without another curiosity.

Or maybe going through the wave equation.
An ancient engine offers no momentum,
About the power from an old vibration,
And nothing but a little bit of venom.

Surrounded by a sin Omega T,
On the other side of you and me.


  1. Entries must be submitted via the competition Web site [TBA] by 11:59PM UTC, April 15, 2016.
  2. A contemporary computer should be able to run the code and generate a sonnet in “Shakesperean” or “Petrarchan” form of 14 lines (as per the form) within 24 hours using less than 16GB of RAM and less than 50GB of disk space. We will run entries using x86-compatible CPUs. Preferred platforms are Apple OSX 10.10, Ubuntu Linux 14.04, or Microsoft Windows 8.1 or 10.x. All libraries must be statically linked, and an executable “RunMe” provided.
  3. The algorithm/software should respond to a noun or noun phrase “prompt” (e.g., “hat”, “car keys”, “wedding”, “sorrow”, “violin case”) and be capable of producing an effectively unlimited number of original sonnets.
  4. We prefer that submissions include source code, and that you provide a binary executable as stated in rule 2. The program must be completely self-contained and require no connectivity to the Internet. Programs must be capable of generating distinct short stories with high probability. We will test this requirement and then, should your entry make the list of finalists, after some unspecified number of iterations we will pick one or two of the generated works as your entry.


The PoetiX Sonnet Turing Test: After an initial screening, the top entrants will have their sonnets mixed in with a collection of human generated sonnets. To keep with the spirit of a Turing Test, the computer-generated sonnets that are included will be generated by two noun prompts per algorithm and not pre-screened before inclusion. Two collections of mixed human- and computer-generated sonnets will be read separately by two panels, each with three judges. The judges will be asked to rate the sonnets as either human- or computer-generated. If a computer-generated sonnet is scored as human by a majority of the judges on its panel, the creators will win a $5000 prize. At most one prize will be awarded to any competitor.

The PoetiX Sonnet Competition: A first prize of $3000 will be awarded to the team that enters the “best” sonnet generating software. Two second prizes of $1000 will be given to the runner-ups. Computer-generated submissions are judged against each other according to criteria used by professional sonnet writers (e.g., instructions given to judges of the "Best American Short Stories" collection). Judging criteria will also include an evaluation of the submitted algorithm and code.

Note: Contestants might be interested in the lessons and resources gathered by the NaNoGenMo 2014 event.

Final Caveats:
Competition details are subject to change at any time.
Interpretation of these rules is subject to the sole and final decision of the "Turing Tests Team"