The first AI poetry collection in Afrikaans trained on A Library to Flee

Silwerwit in die soontoe (transl. Silverwhite in the Distance) is a groundbreaking attempt to explore the creative potentialities of language with the help of artificial intelligence (AI) – a first in Afrikaans, as well as in South Africa. The poems in this volume were composed co-creatively – a human in collaboration with a machine. The poet, Imke van Heerden, delicately interweaves phrases of AI-generated text to create verse, as part of an experiment that examines the following timely question: How might this technology augment and challenge the art of poetry? In poems on AI, Africa, Cape Town and the Karoo, waves glisten, air burns and a machine dances on the outskirts of language.

About the contributors:

Imke van Heerden and Anil Bas lead a research project titled AI as Author in Istanbul. In 2020, they developed a generative language model called AfriKI – an abbreviation for Afrikaans Artificial Intelligence. To learn Afrikaans, the AI read, as dataset, Etienne van Heerden’s novel Die biblioteek aan die einde van die wêreld (transl. A Library to Flee). AfriKI was used as an instrument to help create the first AI poems in Afrikaans.