Burkhard Meyer-Sickendiek


Style Detection for Free Verse Poetry from Text and Speech
Timo Baumann | Hussein Hussein | Burkhard Meyer-Sickendiek
Proceedings of the 27th International Conference on Computational Linguistics

Modern and post-modern free verse poems feature a large and complex variety in their poetic prosodies that falls along a continuum from a more fluent to a more disfluent and choppy style. As the poets of modernism overcame rhyme and meter, they oriented themselves in these two opposing directions, creating a free verse spectrum that calls for new analyses of prosodic forms. We present a method, grounded in philological analysis and current research on cognitive (dis)fluency, for automatically analyzing this spectrum. We define and relate six classes of poetic styles (ranging from parlando to lettristic decomposition) by their gradual differentiation. Based on this discussion, we present a model for automatic prosodic classification of spoken free verse poetry that uses deep hierarchical attention networks to integrate the source text and audio and predict the assigned class. We evaluate our model on a large corpus of German author-read post-modern poetry and find that classes can reliably be differentiated, reaching a weighted f-measure of 0.73, when combining textual and phonetic evidence. In our further analyses, we validate the model’s decision-making process, the philologically hypothesized continuum of fluency and investigate the relative importance of various features.

Analysis of Rhythmic Phrasing: Feature Engineering vs. Representation Learning for Classifying Readout Poetry
Timo Baumann | Hussein Hussein | Burkhard Meyer-Sickendiek
Proceedings of the Second Joint SIGHUM Workshop on Computational Linguistics for Cultural Heritage, Social Sciences, Humanities and Literature

We show how to classify the phrasing of readout poems with the help of machine learning algorithms that use manually engineered features or automatically learn representations. We investigate modern and postmodern poems from the webpage lyrikline, and focus on two exemplary rhythmical patterns in order to detect the rhythmic phrasing: The Parlando and the Variable Foot. These rhythmical patterns have been compared by using two important theoretical works: The Generative Theory of Tonal Music and the Rhythmic Phrasing in English Verse. Using both, we focus on a combination of four different features: The grouping structure, the metrical structure, the time-span-variation, and the prolongation in order to detect the rhythmic phrasing in the two rhythmical types. We use manually engineered features based on text-speech alignment and parsing for classification. We also train a neural network to learn its own representation based on text, speech and audio during pauses. The neural network outperforms manual feature engineering, reaching an f-measure of 0.85.


Large-scale Analysis of Spoken Free-verse Poetry
Timo Baumann | Burkhard Meyer-Sickendiek
Proceedings of the Workshop on Language Technology Resources and Tools for Digital Humanities (LT4DH)

Most modern and post-modern poems have developed a post-metrical idea of lyrical prosody that employs rhythmical features of everyday language and prose instead of a strict adherence to rhyme and metrical schemes. This development is subsumed under the term free verse prosody. We present our methodology for the large-scale analysis of modern and post-modern poetry in both their written form and as spoken aloud by the author. We employ language processing tools to align text and speech, to generate a null-model of how the poem would be spoken by a naïve reader, and to extract contrastive prosodic features used by the poet. On these, we intend to build our model of free verse prosody, which will help to understand, differentiate and relate the different styles of free verse poetry. We plan to use our processing scheme on large amounts of data to iteratively build models of styles, to validate and guide manual style annotation, to identify further rhythmical categories, and ultimately to broaden our understanding of free verse poetry. In this paper, we report on a proof-of-concept of our methodology using smaller amounts of poems and a limited set of features. We find that our methodology helps to extract differentiating features in the authors’ speech that can be explained by philological insight. Thus, our automatic method helps to guide the literary analysis and this in turn helps to improve our computational models.