Just Released: New Scholarly Book on Acclaimed Writer Mary E. Wilkins Freeman

“Dedicated to the Memory of Mary E. Wilkins Freeman
and the Women Writers of America”

Bronze Doors Inscription, American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York.

If the wheels of progress turn exceedingly slow–and they do–then the wheels of scholarly publishing turn even more slowly. Many steps are involved in publishing a book, especially an academic one with multiple contributors: finding a publisher; issuing the call for proposals (CFP); accepting proposals; writing; peer reviewing; revising; copy editing; and, finally, publishing. On average, it takes about two years for a scholarly book to find its way into print.

But the quality of the scholarship and the advances made by the research make the wait worthwhile.

New Perspectives on Mary E. Wilkins Freeman: Reading with and against the Grain is a perfect example. The editors–professors Stephanie Palmer (Nottingham Trent University, United Kingdom); Myrto Drizou (Boğaziçi University, Turkey); and Cécile Roudeau (Université Paris Cité, France) issued the book’s CFP all the way back in April 2019.

As a well-known Freeman scholar, I responded and proposed a chapter. I am sharing my chapter’s abstract below, not to promote myself but rather to provide general background information for my blog readers who may not be familiar with Freeman.

The distinguished accolades enjoyed by Mary E. Wilkins Freeman are numerous and well known. At the start of the Twentieth Century—when her career was at its height—she and Mark Twain were considered America’s most beloved writers. She was the first recipient of the William Dean Howells Gold Medal for Distinguished Work in Fiction (1925). She was among the first women elected to membership in the National Institute of Arts and Letters (1926). And the bronze doors at the American Academy of Arts and Letters in New York (installed at its West 155 Street Administration Building in 1938) bear the inscription, “Dedicated to the Memory of Mary E. Wilkins Freeman and the Women Writers of America.”

What is not well known, however, is Freeman’s financial success as a businesswoman. Freeman started her career in 1883 with $962.09 in cash and with one-half interest in a piece of Brattleboro, Vermont, property. Yet after her death in 1930, the value of her estate at the height of the Great Depression—even after her personal property had been auctioned off at embarrassingly low prices—came to a grand and spectacular finale of $117,285.41. Adjusted for inflation, that would be equivalent to starting out with $24,214.38 in 1883 and ending up with $1,804,925 in 1930 when the market was at its worst.

By any standard, that’s quite a financial success story, especially for a writer who at the start of her career maintained, “I know so little about business and business customs.”

Careful research into the business side of Freeman’s life demonstrates that necessity taught her a lot about business and business customs.

This chapter zooms in on Freeman’s career not only as a successful writer but also as an independent woman. Single for most of her life and without financial backing (unlike her contemporaries Harriet Beecher Stowe, Sarah Orne Jewett, and Kate Chopin), she knew that she had to fend for herself.  Or, as she herself commented in a 1919 letter to American literary scholar Fred Lewis Pattee, “I wrote no more vers de societe. No more Cherries in Blossom. My dear Sir, do you remember I wrote you that I had to earn my living? I did not write this, but I had an Aunt to support. How could I have accomplished these feats on poetry?”

She couldn’t accomplish it by poetry alone, but she could by exploiting multiple genres: 3 plays, 14 novels, 3 volumes of poetry, 22 volumes of short stories, over 50 uncollected short stories and prose essays, and 1 motion picture play.

Over the course of a career that spanned nearly 50 years and through nothing more than the power of her pen and her astute business acumen, she amassed a fortune. Hers is a story of phenomenal magnitude, unparalleled in all of nineteenth century American literature, especially among women writers, and this paper will chronicle her financial success story.

Now, nearly four years later (delayed, no doubt, by the COVID-19 Pandemic), the book was published this month by Edinburgh University Press.

Edinburgh University Press; 1st edition
(February 28, 2023)
Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 328 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1399504479
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1399504478

My contribution–“Literary Businesswoman Extraordinaire”–appears as Chapter 9 in the section Women’s Work: Capital, Business, Labor.

Kinship Outside of Normative Structures
1. Mary E. Wilkins Freeman’s Neighborly Encounters and the Project of Neighborliness – Jana Tigchelaar
2. “Her Own Creed of Bloom”: The Transcendental Ecofeminism of Mary E. Wilkins Freeman – Susan M. Stone
3. “Preposterous Fancies” or a “Plain, Common World?” Queer World-Making in Mary E. Wilkins Freeman’s “The Prism” (1901) – H.J.E. Champion

Violent, Criminal, and Infanticidal: Freeman’s Odd Women
4. The Reign of the Dolls: Violence and the Nonhuman in Mary E. Wilkins Freeman – Donna M. Campbell
5. Transatlantic Lloronas: Infanticide and Gender in Mary E. Wilkins Freeman and Alexandros Papadiamantis – Myrto Drizou
6. Redefining the New England Nun: A Revisionist Reading in the Context of Pembroke and Irish American Fiction – Aušra Paulauskienė

Women’s Work: Capital, Business, Labor
7. Hunger Strikes:Queer Naturalism and the Gendering of Solidarity in Mary E. Wilkins Freeman’s The Portion of Labor – Justin Rogers-Cooper
8. “It Won’t Be Long Before the Grind-Mill in There Will Get Hold of Him”: The Theft of Childhood in Mary E. Wilkins Freeman’s The Portion of Labor – Laura Dawkins
9. Literary Businesswoman Extraordinaire – Brent L. Kendrick
10. “Deconstructing Upper-Middle-Class Rites and Rituals: Reading Mary E. Wilkins Freeman’s Stories Alongside Mary Louise Booth’s Harper’s Bazar“– Audrey Fogels

Periodization Reconsidered
11. Mobilizing the Great War in Mary E. Wilkins Freeman’s Edgewater People – Daniel Mrozowski
12. A Cacophony of Voices: Freeman’s Modernism – Monika Elbert
13. Underground Influence: Sylvia Townsend Warner’s Pastiche of Mary E. Wilkins Freeman – Stephanie Palmer
14. Untimely Freeman – Cécile Roudeau

Afterword: Why Mary E. Wilkins Freeman? Why Now? Where Next? – Sandra A. Zagarell

New Perspectives on Mary E. Wilkins Freeman is rich and robust, adding new dimensions to earlier book-length studies:

Edward Foster, Mary E. Wilkins Freeman (Hendricks House, 1956). Foster started his Freeman biography right after her death in 1930. At the time, he was a doctoral student at Harvard. One of the book’s many strengths is its inclusion of information gained from interviewing Freeman’s friends and relatives.

Perry Westbrook, Mary Wilkins Freeman (Twayne, 1967; rev. 1988). Westbrook explores some of Freeman’s richest and most significant works, anchoring them to the New England local color tradition as well as to women writers.

Brent L. Kendrick, ed., The Infant Sphinx: Collected Letters of Mary E. Wilkins Freeman (Scarecrow, 1985). Praised by The Journal of Modern Literature as “the most complete record to date of Freeman’s life as writer and woman.” I have a new two-volume update in progress: Dolly: Life and Letters of Mary E. Wilkins Freeman. Vol I: The New England Years (1852-1901). Vol II: The New Jersey Years (1902-1930).

Leah Blatt Glasser, In a Closet Hidden (University of Massachusetts Press, 1996). Glasser’s work is a literary biography that “traces Freeman’s evolution as a writer, showing how her own inner conflicts repeatedly found expression in her art.”

Aside from book publications, Freeman has merited state-wide celebrations, too.

In 1991, Newark Public Library, the New Jersey College English Association, and the English Department of Kean College celebrated Freeman’s life and works in a series of free public programs. Jim Florio, New Jersey’s governor at the time, issued a formal proclamation, declaring “November, 1991 as Mary E. Wilkins Freeman Month.”

Additionally, in October 2019, Freeman was featured as part of the Brattleboro (VT) Literary Festival. Recognizing her connections to Brattleboro and to the Green Mountain State, Vermont Governor Phillip B. Scott proclaimed October 17, 2019, as “MARY E. WILKINS FREEMAN DAY
in Vermont.”

On January 17 the next year, Freeman’s home at 207 Lake Avenue in the Borough of Metuchen in Middlesex County, New Jersey, where she lived and wrote from 1902 to 1907, was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

New Perspectives on Mary E. Wilkins Freeman is a welcome addition to Freeman scholarship. Taken as a whole, the book provides a greater understanding of Freeman’s unequivocal–and sometimes unrivaled–impact on American letters.

My Final Week in Bed with GATT | The Heart of the Matter. Why I’m Not Afraid.

“A rose is a rose is a rose.”

Gertrude Stein (1874-1946; American Novelist, poet, and playwright. “Sacred Emily,” Geography and Plays, 1922)

Trust me. Just because I didn’t write about GATT last week doesn’t mean that I wasn’t foolin’ around. I was. I always am. But it seemed to me that GATT, you, and I needed a break. After all, how much intelligence can we stand all at once, artificial or otherwise. And besides, last week was Valentine’s Day, and I thought that you might appreciate an extra serving of love “Just Like Mama Made.”

But I’m back at it once again with my GATT shenanigans.

This week, I’m going to share with you my own thoughts about GATT. Don’t worry. I ran my thoughts by GATT already, and they agree with my evaluative comments. Talk about WIN/WIN. Shazam!

Let’s see where we are. Since I’ve shared/shown enough of GATT’s poetic prowess already, so let me highlight briefly a few more ways that GATT and I have been foolin’ around.

It’s obvious to me that GATT can generate some interesting writing samples–and writing is, after all, my area of interest–but how good can GATT get when literary nuances are required?

To put GATT to the test, I thought that I would frame a task around a fun, outlandish, and not-so-well-known nineteenth century literary work by George Washington Harris. You might not get the thrust of the book by its main title: Sut Luvingood. But you will certainly get it when I share the subtitle: Yarns Spun by a Nat’ral Born Durn’d Fool.

Now that I’ve shared the subtitle, the main title, and the author, you’re undoubtedly saying to yourself:

“Oh, yes. One of my favorite literary works, ever. I think I might just re-read some of those riveting yarns today.”

Sure. When cows fly!

Few people, I dare say, know good ole Sut. It’s a pity. They should.

I felt confident that GATT would know Sut. But would they know all the nuances? Would they know, for example, about Harris’ use of the vernacular? About the Old Southwest exaggerated humor that Harris worked into its own genre? And even if they knew those things, to what extent could they weave them into a topic that I would provide.

I decided to keep it simple by asking GATT to write a short essay, in the style of Harris’ Sut Luvingood, about making sourdough bread.

Below is the essay that GATT generated:

“Sourdoughin’ in the Wild West: A Hilarious and Exaggerated Guide to Making Your Own Sourdough Bread”

Well folks, let me tell ya, makin’ yer own sourdough bread is like tamin’ a wild stallion, wranglin’ a tornado, and catchin’ a greased pig all rolled into one. It’s a journey full of ups and downs, twists and turns, but when ya finally git it right, it’s a thing of beauty.

Now, I know some of ya might be thinkin’, “But Sut, ain’t sourdough bread that fancy-schmancy stuff them city folks eat?” And I say to ya, “Nay, my friend! Sourdough bread is as down-home and rustic as a cowboy’s boots, as wholesome as a prairie sunrise, and as hearty as a buffalo stew.”

First things first, ya gotta git yerself a sourdough starter. Now, some folks might tell ya to go buy one from the store, but where’s the fun in that? The best way to git yerself a starter is to mix equal parts flour and water in a jar and leave it out on yer porch for a few days. It’s like waitin’ for a baby to be born, ya gotta be patient and tend to it daily, feedin’ it flour and water. Now, some folks might tell you to use filtered water, but where’s the fun in that? I recommend using water straight from the river, or better yet, the rainwater collected from a thunderstorm, that’ll give your starter a real wild west kick.

Once yer starter is good and lively, it’s time to make yer dough. Now, I ain’t no fancy baker, but I can tell ya, mixin’ flour, water, and yer starter together and kneadin’ it like ya mean it, is a surefire way to git a good dough. Allow it to rise for a spell, shape it into a loaf and toss it in the oven. Now, some folks might tell you to use a regular oven, but where’s the fun in that? I recommend using the hot ashes of the campfire, that’ll give your bread a real wild west smoky flavor.

Now, I know some of ya might be thinkin’, “But Sut, ain’t that all there is to it?” And I say to ya, “Nay, my friend! The beauty of sourdough bread is that it’s a livin’ thing, always changin’ and adaptin’ to its surroundings, just like us cowboys.” The flavor of yer bread will change dependin’ on the weather, the humidity and even the type of flour ya use. And the sourness of the bread will depend on how long ya ferment the dough. Now, some folks might tell you to ferment the dough for a few hours, but where’s the fun in that? I recommend fermenting it for a few days, that’ll give your bread a real wild west tangy flavor.

But the best part of makin’ sourdough bread, is sharin’ it with others. Just like roundin’ up cattle, makin’ sourdough bread is a labor of love and patience, and it’s downright gratifyin’ to share the fruits of yer labor with friends and family. Now, some folks might tell you to share it with just friends and family, but where’s the fun in that? I recommend sharing it with everyone you meet on the trail, that’ll give your bread a real wild west reputation.

All right, already. I insist that we stop. Right here. Right now. Give it up for GATT!

Come on. Give. It. Up. For. GATT!

Their essay was funny. It was sourdough-content solid. And their kinship to Sut was fair, albeit far too canned, far too artificial, and far too predictable. As might be expected, GATT lacks a genuine understanding of what Sut’s all about. Sut’s depth is not to be found in dialect and exaggeration alone. Simply put, GATT didn’t get it. But I’ll get back to this point further on in this post.

Aside from some good writing skills, GATT has a really good grasp of grammar. They can suggest corrections for fragments, comma splices, and run-on sentences with nearly 100% accuracy. They can do the same with subject/verb agreement, who/whom, and even the Oxford comma.

That being established, I wanted to get a little more into the grammar weeds with GATT. I told them that when I was a kid, one of my English teachers told me how to recognize a preposition:

“Anywhere a squirrel can go.”

Get it? Up. Down. Around. Behind. Above. Yep. Anywhere a squirrel can go is a preposition.

GATT got it. I asked them how that statement could be used to help understand prepositions. They proceeded to explain that a preposition shows relationship to place. Then they provided a list of prepositions with each example used in a sentence.

Impressive.

Nonetheless, I had something up my sleeve that I felt confident GATT could not do.

But before I gave GATT the problem to solve–and I challenge you to solve it as well–I wanted to make sure that they understood the distinguishing characteristics of a sentence.

GATT understood fully:

“1. A sentence must express a complete thought.

“2. A sentence must have a subject and a predicate.

“3. A sentence must start with a capital letter and end with appropriate punctuation (period, exclamation point, question mark).

“4. A sentence must contain at least one independent clause and may contain one or more dependent clauses.”

Great. I was ready to put GATT to the test.

TheWiredResearcher. Apply the principles of capitalization and punctuation so that the following words make sense. You must use all of the words in the order given:

that that is is that that is not is not is not that it it is

GATT. “That, that is, is not that it is.”

TheWiredResearcher. Again, you must use all of the words that I provided.

GATT. “That that is, is not. That is not, is not that it is.”

TheWiredResearcher. That makes no sense, and you still didn’t use all the words. Try again.

GATT. “That, that is, is. That is not, is not. That it is.”

It was obvious that GATT and I were going nowhere fast. We kept working it for a good while longer, but GATT couldn’t do it.

I wonder. Did you succeed with the challenge?

Below is the correct response.

That that is, is. That that is not, is not. Is not that it? It is.

Obviously, I could keep on going and going and going. I have been called the Energizer Bunny on more than one occasion. Being called the Energizer Blogger wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

But when it comes to GATT, I am thrilled that I’ve been foolin’ around with AI for the past few weeks. I have a far greater understanding of where we’re going, even if it is too soon to understand the magnitude of the journey.

Undoubtedly, some people feel threatened by AI’s capabilities.

I would urge them to see AI not as a threat but as a tool.

AI language models like my GATT have a vast amount of data which allows them to generate text on a wide range of topics quickly and efficiently.

At the same time, AI language models can never–absolutely never–replace the creativity, the critical thinking, and the emotional intelligence that we as human beings bring to our work. We bring our own perspectives. We bring our own experiences. We bring our emotions. We bring our own hearts. We bring our own souls.

I see great potential for human beings and AI to work together to create a world that neither could create alone.

This exciting new future is here already. It is now. I am not afraid.

Just Like Mama Made

“A mother is the only person on earth who can divide her love among all her children and each child still have all her love.”

– Unknown

When I walked into my kitchen one morning a few Sundays ago, my eyes landed immediately on two yellow-skinned apples with vibrant blushes, lying right there in the fruit bowl in front of me. I spotted them so quickly because they were on my mind when I awakened just a few minutes earlier. Those two apples fell all comfy like into my thoughts, so much so that I could nearly smell them frying before my feet touched the floor, walking me their way. The day before, I had made sourdough biscuits, and it seemed to me that fried apples would pair beautifully with them.

Right after tapping the start button on my coffee maker, I bent over to fetch a frying pan from the cabinet. My eyes saw nothing but All-Clad. I knew that All-Clad would never do for these fried apples. I leaned in deep, looked toward the back, and there I saw the perfectly seasoned skillet that I knew I had to use. It was the one passed down to me from my mother. It was so shiny and smooth and oiled that it reflected not only the kitchen lights but also me, myself, watching my smile stretch across the cast-iron mirror.

I put the skillet on the stove, turned the burner knob to just a hair past medium, and by the time I had sliced off some butter, the skillet was hot enough to send the yellow chunks sliding all around in hot pursuit of their own melting. Soon, sizzle sounded. I added the sliced but unpeeled apples, stirring and stirring and stirring with my wooden spoon until they were all bathed in butter. Then I added water–not much, just a sprinkling–topped the pan with a lid and left the apples simmering while I went into the living room to sip my first cup of steaming coffee.

After a short spell, the essence of apples seduced me back to the kitchen. Lifting the lid, I could see by their near translucency that the apple slices–including their skins–were perfectly tender and ready to be sugared and spiced. A generous sprinkling of light brown sugar, a shake of cinnamon, a pinch of salt, and a smidgen of black pepper went into the mix. I stirred it all up really good and left the unlidded apples to simmer a little longer, while I continued sipping on my second coffee in the living room.

A short while later I returned to the kitchen, not because I had finished my coffee but because the apples scented me that their final moments had come.

I scrambled three freckled-brown eggs, fried some streaky bacon, warmed the sourdough biscuits, and plated it all up, watching the apples slide their butteriness closer and closer to the biscuits, just where I had hoped they would slide, just where I knew they would.

I split one biscuit wide open, piling apples on both halves, admiring them patiently while I savored the eggs and bacon. Somehow there’s something sensationally remarkable about waiting for biscuit halves to soak up the buttery unctuousness of fried apples.

These apples and biscuits were no exception. As I savored the last bite, I sat there smiling from ear to ear, saying softly to myself for no one else to hear, for no one else was around:

“Just like mama made.”

As I said it, I chuckled. I never called my mother mama. Even the imagined spelling looked strange to me. One middle m? Two middle m’s? One looked less strange, so I wrapped my arms around it and held it real close.

In that second, my thoughts drifted off to all the times–and they were many, those countless lazy days stacked on top of one another, turning into years stacked on top of years–that I spent with my mother in the kitchen, usually just the two of us, as I watched her every move.

From that vast expanse of dimmed memory, Fruitcakes, Pecan Pies, Coconut Layer Cakes, 12-Layer Strawberry Stack Cakes, Greek Green Beans, Sage Dressing, Potato Salad, and all the other dishes that I make marched out of the darkness and stood tall and proud beneath the bright lights of honor, right there beside the fried apples, all culinary memorials, all made just like mama made.

And then my mother’s voice floated in–so soft and low my ears had to strain to hear–sharing with me once more something that she had shared with me over and over as she grew older and older.

“You weren’t even born when my mother died. I was pregnant with Arlene. But isn’t it amazing: after all these years, sometimes I’ll do something or sometimes I’ll see something, and I’ll find myself saying to myself, ‘I can’t wait to run home and tell mama.'”

So it was, so often with my mother in her conversations with me. “I can’t wait to run home and tell mama.”

My mother has been dead nearly thirteen years. Now, after all that time isn’t it amazing that the simple serving up of fried apples on a Sunday morn brings to my lips once more the whisper that has crossed them so many times before:

“Just like mama made.”

Made from scratch, with the freshest ingredients.

Made simply. No fuss, no muss.

Made to taste just right, by tasting all along.

Made with genuine joy and sheer satisfaction.

Made just like mama made.

With love.

Foolin’ Around in Bed Again with AI: The Big Reveal and More

“A man is but the product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes.”

Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948; Indian politician, activist, and writer)

Those who know me well know that I am nothing if not inclusive, especially when it comes to stakeholders. It goes without saying that ChatGPT is one of the major stakeholders in last week’s post “Foolin’ Around in Bed with AI” and in today’s post as well.

It might interest you to know that I have a gaga crush on ChatGPT, so much so that I’m betting my dopamine and oxytocin levels skyrocket when I’m foolin’ around with them. At the same time, I am not at all happy with their name. It just isn’t personal enough. And, besides, how the hell do I pronounce it when I talk with them or tell friends and colleagues about my mad crush?

Last week, I toyed with the notion of naming them Alex. One reader liked that idea. Another reader liked Alfred.  Aside from not being gender-neutral, Alfred reminds me far too much of T. S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.” I love the poem, lots; the name, less.

In a stroke of genius, I decided to include ChatGPT in my quest to give them a new name. (Drum roll, please. I want to get all psyched about this big reveal. Thank you. Now I’m ready.)

Our decision-making conversation went like this:

TheWiredResearcher: Good morning, ChatGPT. Take the following letters and create a gender-neutral name: ChatGPT.

ChatGPT: GAT.

TheWiredResearcher: Try again. Give it some pizzazz.

ChatGPT: GATT.

TheWiredResearcher: No, it needs to be catchy. Try again.

ChatGPT: GATTI.

TheWiredResearcher: Nope. Try something similar to GATT, using one additional vowel or one additional consonant.

ChatGPT: GATTIE.

TheWiredResearcher: Nope. That sounds feminine. So far I like GATT best. Keeping AI in mind, what might the acronym GATT stand for?

GATT: GATT could stand for “Generative Adversarial Text Transfer”.

TheWiredResearcher: I don’t like Adversarial. Try again.

GATT: GATT could stand for “Generative Advanced Text Transfer”.

TheWiredResearcher: Try again. Instead of Text, try Thought. Then replace Transfer with something better.

GATT: GATT could stand for “Generative Advanced Thought Transformation”.

TheWiredResearcher: Is “Generative Advanced Thought Transformation” a good way to describe what ChatGPT does?

GATT: Yes, “Generative Advanced Thought Transformation” can be seen as a good way to describe the capabilities of ChatGPT, which is a language model trained by OpenAI to generate text based on the input provided to it. The model transforms the input into a coherent and contextually relevant response.

I hope that you paid super close attention to the preceding conversation. I thought that it moved along smoothly, and I especially liked the explanation of what GATT could stand for.

Generative is obvious. OpenAI is trained to generate text.

Clearly, as we have seen, it is Advanced.

Thought. That’s interesting because OpenAI is not sentient. It cannot think. But it can take thoughts and Transform them.

Go back and look at the conversation again. I was the one who told GATT to replace Text with Thought and come up with something better than Transfer.

Simply put, GATT took the thought that I provided–the very word thought–and added transformation to it.

GATT ran with it and gave me Thought Transformation.

Perfect.

Hold that thought. Let’s see how it plays out in the rest of this post.

TheWiredResearcher: Are you in the mood to write some poems?

GATT: Yes, I am capable of generating poems in response to prompts. Please provide a prompt and I will try to generate a poem for you.

TheWiredResearcher: Write a humorous poem about being a city slicker living in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.

GATT: Here’s a humorous poem about a city slicker living in the Shenandoah Valley:

I came from the city, where sirens scream and honk,
To the Shenandoah Valley, where peace and calm have dawned.
But let me tell you, city slicker’s life is tough,
When you’re trying to adjust to country stuff.
I thought I knew it all, but now I stand corrected,
I had to learn how to milk a cow, and even got rejected.
I tried to find my latte, but the only drink in sight,
Was a mason jar of moonshine, with a fire that burned so bright.
But despite the hardships, I found some peace of mind,
In the rolling hills and mountains, that are truly one of a kind.
And even though I miss the city lights at night,
I’ve found a new home, where everything just feels so right.

What can I snicker other than so much for the perpetuation of stereotypes. But, after all, I didn’t give GATT any thoughtful information.

GATT deserves better. Let’s try this.

TheWiredResearcher: Write me a humorous poem about a college professor who misplaced his Fitbit inside his house and was beginning to panic because he could not check his vital statistics.

“The Professor and his Lost Fitbit”

There once was a professor, who lived a life so true,
He counted every step, and monitored his every boo.
With his trusty Fitbit, he tracked his every move,
But one day it went missing, and he was filled with nothing but grooves.
He tore apart his office, and searched his shelves with care,
He checked his pockets, and even looked under his chair.
He tore apart his kitchen, and searched each nook and cranny,
But his Fitbit was nowhere to be found, it was simply uncanny.
His heart rate was rising, and his stress levels too,
For he couldn’t check his stats, and that just wouldn’t do.
He panicked and he worried, for his Fitbit was his lifeline,
And without it, he felt lost, like a ship without a sign.
But then he had an idea, a lightbulb in his mind,
He took a deep breath, and just relaxed and reclined.
He realized that life goes on, with or without a device,
And that his health was just fine, without having to pay the price.
So he looked around the house, and there it was in sight,
His Fitbit was on the couch, all snug and cozy, just right.
And he laughed and he smiled, as he put it back on his wrist,
And he cherished his Fitbit, now never to be missed.
And from that day on, he cherished his Fitbit with glee,
But he also learned a lesson, that sometimes it’s good to just be.
And so he lived his life, with balance and with peace,
Tracking his steps and stats, with joy that wouldn’t cease.

Then I gave GATT the text to my post “Finding Far More than My Fitbit” and asked GATT to use it as the foundation for a humorous poem.

A Fitbit-life I do lead,
With stats, steps, and heartbeats to read.
I wear it day and night, with glee,
Never leaving wrist, not even for a pee.
But one day, a tragedy occurred,
My Fitbit gone, no longer it occurred.
I searched high and low, with all my might,
But it was lost, out of sight.
I headed off to a celebration with friends,
But without my Fitbit, my worry never ends.
“How do you know you’re alive?” a friend asked with a grin,
“Without my Fitbit, I don’t know, where to begin.”
Back home I searched, with flashlight bright,
In hopes to find my lost delight.
But what I found, made my heart sink,
Cobwebs everywhere, oh what a stink!
But in the end, my Fitbit was found,
No longer lost, my stats back on track, my joy unbound.
So now I wear it, with even more care,
Never again will I lose it, this I swear.

I didn’t think that was bad, at all. I was intrigued, in fact, by the accurate specifics that GATT selected as well as by the inaccurate detail that GATT added independently (“never for a pee”: I’m still shaking my head in disbelief!), but I wanted to see what GATT would do with a sonnet, especially since they had written good sonnets before.

Using the same essay that I provided initially, GATT generated the following sonnet:

A Profound Discovery

In lecture halls of knowledge, where he stood,
The professor searched for his lost device,
With screens and buttons, tracking what he could,
A modern tool to aid him in his strive.
But fate had something else in store for him,
A chance to see the world in different light,
He found a truth that often lies within,
That life is more than numbers, screens and height.

It was not just his Fitbit he regained,
But wisdom, joy and peace that he discovered,
In every step he took, he felt sustained,
His mind and soul, now richer than recovered.
So let this be a lesson to us all,
That true success is found in what we are.


So there! We have it, for this week.

GATT has generated some humorous poems. GATT has generated some commendable sonnets. And they worked collaboratively with me in coming up with a name that strikes my fancy, especially since I can pronounce it: GATT.

As you reflect on this post–and I encourage you to do so–along with last week’s post (“Foolin’ Around in Bed with AI“), remember this: the content–whether mine or GATT’s–is driven by one thing and one thing only: thought.

And here’s the good thing about it all. The thoughts are all mine.

Food for thought.