Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Oulipost 22: For a death of us

The oulipo technique for Day 22 of Oulipost 2014 might be one of my top five favorites! It's called ANTONYMY:
In Oulipian usage, antonymy means the replacement of a designated element by its opposite. Each word is replaced by its opposite, when one exists (black/white) or by an alternative suggesting antonymy (a/the, and/or, glass/wood).

Original: To be or not to be, that is the question.
Antonymy: To not be and to be: this was an answer.

Select a passage from your newspaper source text to complete this exercise.

You'll definitely want to experiment with this technique. For inspiration and all around poetry goodness, be sure to peruse poems written by the other Ouliposters over at the antonymy page at Found Poetry Review!

For a death of us

We could lose her, too.
We’re asked if she’s loose-leafed,
beyond Old York Lake,
a south flyway mist,
northern Delaware moor,
an east or west sea.

Westward, also
overlooking a flood 
of uninhabitable or bucolic calm, 
she always disappears to us,
diametric, the essential
scattering, primordial spheres.

Process notes
The title of the poem is a clause from the first sentence of the passage I selected.  For the poem, I modified the following in the source text:
  • removed three of the preposition "to" and one "of"
  • added or changed punctuation
  • moved the the position of the last two words ('to us') so that they appear a little earlier in the sentence

Poem source
Smith, Erika D. "New ‘cultural district’ is a ploy." Indy Star [Indianapolis, Indiana] 22 Apr 2014. A3

Monday, April 21, 2014

Oulipost 21: Change everything except your wife and children

Day 21 of Oulipost 2014 has us weaving and twisting in a Confabulation:
Craft a conversation poem using “he said/she said” quotes that you find in newspaper articles.
This is another fun exercise that would be a great warm-up exercise for a writing workshop. Today, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't help but drift off into silliness, as evidenced below.  [Side note: After I culled the quotes from the newspaper, one thing I noticed is that we Midwesterns use the word 'just' almost to the point of it being a tic.]

The other multi-talented Ouliposters have crafted some wonderful confabulation poems, which you can read by heading over to the confabulation page at Found Poetry Review!


Change everything except your wife and children

That first year was just a nightmare, he said.
We began to see writing everywhere, in the smoke …

… in the sand, she said. You mean we saw smoke
in the sand. You have to want to come here. Mistakes
have a cost. We need to err on the side of memory.

Loyalty, he said. You mean we need
to write on the wrong side of loyalty.

Memory, loyalty, deterrence, 
she said. They're all rules
glued to chaos. Most of us 
will never have a reason to be brave.

Maybe it's one of those moments
you can't plan or orchestrate, he said.

Maybe, she said. Or maybe
we should all be watching.

Not likely, he said. Let me put it this way:
It's not possible. When you watch,
you can't wait. You wake up and it's over.

True, she said. Did you hear? 
They had a Facebook poll
and we won. We have different
lives now. Now, we shoot back.

From behind barricades? he asked.
Yes, she replied, and we throw Molotiv cocktails, too.

Violence and death
did not occur to me,
he said. Cocktails…
how about an apple
martini after work?

I go to work every day, she said.

Well, that's all I need to know, he said.            

It's like I said, she said, you have to want to ...

... I actually hate it, he said.
It's just bang, bang bang.
The big guys just keep pulling…

… so that's why everyone looks taller ... she murmured.

...I  could feel it in my chest, the force—
You do know that you're able to spread 
your arms and just inhale, right?

But when I do that, it feels like a weight just sliding off.
I've never seen that before. 
You always want to be careful.

It really freaks me out when I go home.
Me too. We don't have any cell phones.

How about a cup of coffee?  
I need to do a kind of gut check.

There'll be pie …
This is very surreal.

… and fried chicken …
I'm not here. I'm just another face. I'm not running any races.

Poem Sources:

Indy Star 21 Apr 2014.
  • Ambrogi, Mark. “Months later, Franzetti wins.” C2
  • Associated Press. Hot Corner. C2
  • Baig, Edward C. and Jon Swartz. “Samsung’s plan to KO Apple.” 5B
  • Reynolds, Josh T. “Confront the powerful, question the system.” B1
  • Copeland, Larry. “Stories king at rights museum.” B3
  • Keefer, Zak. “NBA Playoffs: Atlanta Hawks vs. Indiana Pacers.” C1
  • Kwiatkowski, Marisa. “Jonathan Byrd’s cafeteria to downsize next month.” A6
  • Reynolds, Josh T. “Confront the powerful, question the system.” B1
  • Wang, Stephanie. “Number are bad, but who’s counting?” A1
  • Whiteside, Kelly. “Boston Marathon will allow some closure.” C8
  • Woods, David. “Olympics and College: Two Different Worlds.” C1
  • Woods, David. “Return to Boston.” A1


The title is a direct quote from an article. The he said / she said stanzas are comprised of collaged quotes from the newspaper. In addition, for a few words, one of the following modifications was made to the source:
  • change in verb tense
  • erasure within a word to form another new word
  • erasure across a phrase to form a new word

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Oulipost 20: Today is empty space

Oh my—we're two-thirds of the way through Oulipost 2014! It seems like we just started. 

Our technique for today is the LESCUREAN PERMUTATION [PLAIN]:
Select a newspaper article or passage from a newspaper article as your source text. Switch the first noun with the second noun, the third noun with the fourth noun, and so on until you’ve reached the end of your text.
While this seems simple, I found it time-consuming to find text that would result in anything even mildly interesting. Desperate, I looked to the Horoscope and the advice column "Dear Dr. Dirt." While the advice column appeared to be promising, I ended up using the day's horoscope as fodder for the poem. The result is shown below.

Other Ouliposters have written some fine poems using this techique. If you get a chance, take a look at the lescurean permutation page at Found Poetry Review!


Today is empty space

Your world is whipped and ready.
It feels to you like the whole garden

is master and you, the gardener’s thumb,
with friendship as green as Midas’

was gold. Whether you’re growing
ferns or faith, you’ll be wild and lucky.

Some kind of ritual may help
create what you believe in

around life. Let it
shape your imagination.

Poem Source:
Mathis, Holiday. Horoscopes. Indy Star [Indianapolis, Indiana] 20 Apr 2014. E9

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Oulipost 19: Sestina

Day 19 of the Oulipost adventure!  For our poetizing experiment today, we have the SESTINA:
This will be one of your most challenging Oulipost prompts! A sestina is a poetic form of six six-line stanzas. The end-words of the lines of each stanza repeat those of the first, but in a differing order that in each successive stanza follows the permutation: 615243. The entire sequence of end words is thus: 123456; 615243; 364125; 532614; 451362; 246531. All words and phrases must be sourced from your newspaper text.
To read the wonderful sestinas that the other Ouliposters have written, be sure to check out the Oulipost sestina page at Found Poetry Review!


Today, we won't identify as strongly with our questions.
Bloodshot eyes are the only way I know you now. We circle,
wilting on the front porch with our a little-known wrinkle
in the rulebook. Everything's a slap in the face, scenes
we collect like bullet holes and missing doors, a mock light
to help heal our wound. Each morning breaks

like fine crystal. We imagine all of those small breaks
to be fault lines in a chain, answer to every question
we ever harbored. In your palm, you try to hold sunlight.
Time runs slips through us, so I seal the door, circle
my hand around yours, squeeze tight. On the train, scenes
outside the window flash past. Trees, homes wrinkle

and blur. They flow like cotton. We wrap ourselves in, wrinkle
around our summer, a billow punctuated by a break
in the heat. Heat tamps the rampage. We return to the scene
of the crime that cordoned off our mistakes. Questions
are of little consequence. Lucky day. A rainbow circles
the sun, ice crystals suspended in clouds, bending light

into a halo. I see a glow around you, too. We took lightly
that sizzling early season that soured late, wrinkled
our ambition, talked our way into a five-star story. Circles
of that sort are an afterthought, in which life breaks,
starts and stops with the electric gospel of questions.
We always thought we could crash and make up. Scenes

become points in time, decisions to be made. But scenes,
laden with significance, can paralyze. Consoled by light
we would rather burn our hours in pointless ways, create questions
that glow like memories. It's wayfaring that drives the wrinkled
resurgence. Whether one wins or loses looks like a different break,
but it's pretty much the same: it's still battling.  We stuff a circle

of reasons into our pocket, clues to a sunny future, circle
the mark of the sun as rain falls on the railway. Seen
from afar, a body can appear bubble-wrapped, unbreakable.
We hear the solar wind howl. It's our meal ticket, light
as honeysuckle. On Friday, we'll mine our path, find new wrinkles
in sun, wind, rain. Damaged and cracked, we'll question

the surprising amount of water that circles. The world can light
upside-down when you're cropping scenes. The years trigger a wrinkle
in our quiet clutch of questions. Our feeble haloes, how they break. 

Poem Sources:

Indy Star 19 Apr 2014.
  • Guerra, Kristine and Tim Evans. “Questions Follow Deaths.” A1
  • Keefer, Zak. “In Pursuit of the Game.” A1
  • Minzesheimer, Bob. “‘You Are Not Special’ teacher has more to say.” B8
  • Horoscopes. E4
  • Callahan, Rick. “Superfund site has a sunny future.” A3
  • Swiatek, Jeff. “Sewage in Streets.” A3
  • Williams, Casey. “Drivers driven to distractions.” A8
  • Tom and Ray. “All wet? Check sunroof, doors.” A9
  • Waggonner, John. "Plans for a Topsy Turvy World." B5
  • Waggonner, John. "Some lessons flipped in retirement savings." B5
  • In Brief. B02, B03, C02
  • Gardner, Elysa. “Actors talk mice, men and making plans.” B8
  • Cavin, Curt. "Andretti teammates crash and make up." C08
  • Carey, Anne and Alejandro Gonzalez. "Share with neighbors?" B07
  • Pointer, Michael. "Fans speak out, and team listens." C4

Friday, April 18, 2014

Oulipost 18: Code my ice drift, collude my issue

For the Oulipost 2014 project, today we're going to experiment with the technique called HOMOCONSONANTISM:
Choose a sentence or short passage from your newspaper to complete a homoconsonantism. In this form, the sequence of consonants in a source text is kept, while all its vowels are replaced. For example:
ORIGINAL: To be or not to be: that is the question.
CONSONANTS ONLY: T b r n t t b t t s t h q s t n
FINAL PRODUCT: As burnt tibia: it heats the aqueous tone.

This is a challenging exercise, friends! After four or five attempts, I found I just had to trust and go with it. The attempt that was the least jibberish-y is displayed below.  A couple of comments: 1) The title of the poem is the homoconsonantized version of the news-article title. 2) I used the letter y as a vowel.

Other Ouliposters have written some creative poems using this technique and posted them on the Oulipost homoconsonantism page at Found Poetry Review. Be sure to check it out!


code my ice drift, collude my issue

do austere cities 
daunt? heave then eddy. 
emote a home. to cloak,
i now elude a gate, hail
a past. eden, too, 
is my opera, a view 
we air out.

Original sentence:
Districts don’t have the needed mathematical knowledge to help students improve, Wu wrote.

d, s, t, r, c, t, s, d, n, t, h, v, t, h, n, d, d, m, t, h, m, t, c, l, k, n, w, l, d, g, t, h, l, p, s, t, d, n, t, s, m, p, r, v, w, w, r, t

Title consonants.
c, d, m, c, d, r, f, t, c, l, l, d, m, s, s

Poem Source:
Wang, Stephanie. "Academic draft called ‘a mess’." Indy Star [Indianapolis, Indiana] 18 Apr 2014. A1

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Oulipost 17: Haikuisation

It's Day 17 of the  Oulipost 2014 project! Today, we'll be distilling and compressing, creating poems using the HAIKUISATION technique:
The haiku is a Japanese poetic form whose most obvious feature is the division of its 17 syllables into lines of 5, 7 and 5 syllables. Haikuisation has sometimes been used by Oulipians to indicate the reduction of verses of normal length to lines of haiku-like brevity. Select three sentences from a single newspaper article and “haiku” them.
These are fun to write, a relaxing practice that would make a satisfying accompaniment to your daily read of the news even after Poetry Month ends. 

Try your own haikuisation. And if you get a chance, check out the Oulipost haikuisation page at Found Poetry Review!



letter, fresh
October scuds, white
time fleeting



world mischief 
imputed to politics

Poem Sources:

Higgins, Will. "The Father of Our Zoo." Indy Star [Indianapolis, Indiana] 17 Apr 2014. A1

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Oulipost 16: Star Report

[While I'm posting the Oulipost #16 on the correct day, I actually wrote it on Day 15, using Day 15 sources, because I'll be on the road for most of the day.]

It's all about monsters for Day 16 of the  Oulipost 2014 project. We're going to create a poem using the CHIMERA technique: 
The chimera of Homeric legend – lion’s head, goat’s body, treacherous serpent’s tail – has a less forbidding Oulipian counterpart. It is engendered as follows. Having chosen a newspaper article or other text for treatment, remove its nouns,verbs and adjectives. Replace the nouns with those taken in order from a different work, the verbs with those from a second work, the adjectives with those from a third.
So brush up on your grammar if needed and play along! If you want to see what can be done with this form, head on over to the Oulipost chimera page at Found Poetry Review!

Star Report

Oh, the tragedy: Having to break 
your credit score and work

with opinions. Those of you who swiped
your credit scores off to the IRS

on Monday (or years ago)—wake up
and then report to the movies.

Plastic investigators will be strolling by
with potentially semi-sized blazes

and a fitting disbelief of opinions

on their backs. That’s right, opinions.

Up to about a half-year of opinions
were thought to die before 4:30 a.m today,

conflicted investigator O. Sunshine said,
but little should remain on fire.

Still, friends and family could seem lit-up
with stories as moderate people turn
above and below. Trustees likely 

will be dignified in the movies—in Tenessee
for sacriligeous treasure. Whatever 

opinions do die on Monday won’t die
unwanted. Just as your credit scores

commemorate a blaze—fire up that
blow-molded balcony or bed!—

opinions will seem like temples open to officials
(and about 40 spirits later in the film).

This group of opinions, if there’s any movie at all,
Sunshine continued, will remain empty.

Late-arriving crews found the most 

unwavering opinion ever allowed

in the most miraculous film ever
was stolen on May 9, 1923.

Poem Sources:

Indy Star 16 Apr 2014.

Base article
Star report. "Double whammy: snow and taxes." A1

Noun article
Mack, Justin L. "Victim’s heroism saved lives, pastor says." A1

Verb article
McCleery, Bill. "Taken at Christmas, found for Easter." A3

Adjective article
Bangert, Dave. "Holy family lands in its final, unholy resting place." Viewpoints. A10

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Oulipost 15: Moon Omen

Day 15 of the Oulipost 2014 projecthalf way through!!! I can hardly believe it. 

Today, we're pretending to be prisoners, writing poems using the PRISONER’S
Imagine a prisoner whose supply of paper is restricted. To put it to fullest use, he will maximize his space by avoiding any letter extending above or below the line (b,d,f,g,h,j,k,l,p,q,t and y) and use only a,c,e,i,m,n,o,r,s,u,v,w,x and z. Compose a poem using only words that can be made from these letters AND which you source from your newspaper text.
This is an technique that requires a lot reading to glean a handful of words. You'll have gone through a close reading of the day's news by the time you're ready to write your poem, but it's worth it!

The other Ouliposters are hard at it, writing beautiful, funny, clever, creative poems. Check out their prisoner constraint poems over at Found Poetry Review!


Moon Omen

As near as someone can measure,
we were once ice. Rivers course over

ironic versions now. Oceans rise.

We misuse our season. Minor vicars, 

we sour in neon rooms, 
remain ever civic, economic. 

See us score an issue, error across crises. 
We are wiser now, no? We concur 

we are. Our senses answer in a series
of omissions. We never nuance a scene,

voice a concern. Even in a sure
sun, no one sees our crimes.

Poem Sources:

Indy Star 14 Apr 2014. Print. Various articles.

For some words, one of the following modifications was made to the source:
  • change in verb tense
  • change in noun from plural to singular or vice versa
  • erasure across a phrase to form a new word

Monday, April 14, 2014

Oulipost 14: Petroleum Picnic, Water Bowl

We're taking a close look at advertisements and classifieds today for the  Oulipost 2014 project. The technique is called COLUMN INCHES. Here are the instructions from the Oulipost 2014 playbook:
Refer to the advertising section or the classifieds in your source newspaper. Create a poem by replacing all of the nouns in your chosen ad segment or classified listing with nouns from one article in the same newspaper. You may use multiple ads/classifieds, presented in the order of your choosing.

This would be another fun warm-up exercise for a writing group or as a warm-up exercise for yourself. If you need some inspiration, check out the abundance of creative poems written by the other Ouliposters on the Found Poetry Review page for the column-inches poems. 


Petroleum Picnic, Water Bowl

10 15 histories 
that need popularity 

10 15 wars needed to “SHOWCASE” our amazing fact-like
exterior reason-stories. A great opportunity to have the remarkable
applied to your property at huge subsidies. Have your city or county
looking freshly painted forever! Made in a reservoir! Hoosier owned! 

Fat-rendering appearanceLooks like fresh money
1,200 heart attacksMeets EPA health concessions
No artificial blast furnacesGreat for all grasslands and schools

Call now for a free coke oven.

Poem Sources:

Indy Star 14 Apr 2014.

advertisement was found on page A2

nouns taken from the following article:
Slabaugh, Seth. "Muncie Water Bowl auction." A9

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Oulipost 13: Vested in Virtue

Lucky Day 13 of the Oulipost 2014 project! Today, it's all about names in our oulipo exercise, the EPITHALAMIUM:
An Oulipian epithalamium, or marriage song, is one composed exclusively with the letters of the names of bride and groom (bride and bride, groom and groom, etc). Visit the engagement or wedding announcements section of your newspaper and select a couple. Write a poem using only words that can be made with the letters in their name. You may choose to use first names only if you prefer anonymity or full names if you’re desperate for more letters.

Below is the poem I came up with. Marriage and engagement announcements are not what they used to be, because there were none, neither in today's Herald Times nor the Indy Star. So I went with the only engagement and/or wedding announcement I could find within the past month in the Indy Star. I won't repeat the actual names of the couple here, but will list the letters in their names: a, b, d, e, h, i, k, m, n, r, s, t, u, v.

And if you get a chance, take a peek at the wonderful poems the other Ouliposters are writing at the Epithalamium page over at Found Poetry Review.

Vested in Virtue

At dusk under redbuds, she bathes
in an umber-hued river. Bridesmaids
braid her hair—stemmed irises, verdant herbs.
Behind her is the dais. Admire the ramekins, brimmed—
brie and bread, absinthe and beer.
In the ambient darkened air, she seems ursine,
bearskin bed, beehive atrium.
Her birthname is tinder, ash hidden in a bitter urn.
Brand the bride, her skin marked in runes.
This is the true tundra: hide a bruise
behind virtue. She hears the drums beat,
their timbre, the hundred bantam mutinies that remain.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Oulipost 12: We Passed On His Secret Torch

Thank-goodness it's the week-end! I needed it for today's Oulipost 2014 Day 12 exercise, the SONNET:
Write a sonnet sourced from lines found in newspaper articles. You may choose your own sonnet type (examples here: http://www.sonnets.org/basicforms.htm) and should feel free to be creative with the rules. One known Oulipo variation is “sonnets of variable length,” in which one must compose a sonnet in which the lines are either as short as possible or as long as possible.
While I am certainly no sonneteer, some of the other Ouliposters are, so be sure to check out their poems for today at the Found Poetry Review's oulipost Sonnet page!


We Passed On His Secret Torch

Even the humblest functionary short-sold the night. For miles,
black smoke. If it seems like a fairy tale, it is. You don’t need
to bring a gun to thunder, lose a million dollars trying to keep
the blast afloat. Put your muscle into moving that vintage fire

to the finish line. Devotees point to statistics, going at right
angles and squares. That's what you got in your rogue. It doesn't appear
Oz is paying attention, though, with his river of thunder wreaking
mayhem. You thought it was the climate, no? Just because you have a right

to fictitious stories doesn't mean your GPS'll take you where you want
to go. Allow the like-minded to congregate. Blame botched hotspots.
It’s easy. Think of the Protestant version or the most famous writer

you've not heard of yet. Be bullish on millennials and immigrants.
Listen, Microsoft was initially a mess, but it’s better now. Not
surprising, there’s expected to be a firefighting crowd after midnight.

Poem sources

Indy Star 12 Apr 2014.

  • Detrich, Matt. “Messages of Hope.” A1
  • ____. “Lots of ‘Pull’.” A3
  • Hunsinger Benbow, Dana. “Charlie & Barney’s makes comeback.” A2
  • Penner, Diana. “Fire at vacant warehouse under control in 2 hours.” A4
  • Pulliam, Russell. “Author Eric Metaxas stands up for life.” A12
  • Maggliozi, Tom and Ray. “Factory-installed GPS won’t take her where she wants to go.” A9
  • White, Charlie. “Ahead of Thunder festival, a debate about gun rights.” A4
  • Williams, Casey. “Auto Infotainment Powered by Apple.” A8
  • Woods, David. “Has soccer’s time arrived in Indy?.” A1

Friday, April 11, 2014

Oulipost 11: sown crops

Day 11 of National Poetry Month and the Oulipost 2014 project brings us to the intriguing technique known as UNIVOCALISM:
A univocalic text is one written with a single vowel. It is consequently a lipogram in all the other vowels. If he had been univocally minded, Hamlet might have exclaimed, “Be? Never be? Perplexed quest: seek the secret!” All words used must be sourced from your newspaper.
In the poem below, I chose the vowel 'o'. (I choose to treat the letter y as a consonant for this exercise. I recognize that it functions as a vowel in the words I selected.)

This is a rather challenging technique. To see some really creative poems that resulted from this constraint, take a look at what the other Oulipost poets wrote! Links to their poems can be found at the univocalism page at the Found Poetry Review.

image Hartwig HKD license Creative Commons

sown crops

by noon, my sons nod off,

both work-worn.

dogs roost on dry rocks,

howl to moon gods.

two colts bolt across to cool woods. look how boldly

brooks flow now, how sky blooms

soft gold, how my body,

born from storm, knows

soon, crows.

Poem sources

Indy Star 11 Apr 2014.

No more than four words were sampled from each of the following:
  • Prayer. A02
  • "Cities feel squeezed by state legislature." A03
  • Indiana Stocks of Interest. A07
  • Obituaries. A07
  • Public Notices. A09
  • Adoption Special/Notices. A10
  • Commericial Real Estate. A10
  • Pets. A10
  • Regional Forecast. A12
  • "Colbert ups ante." B01
  • "Health care chief steps down." B01
  • "Peers disagree whether stabbing suspect bullied." B03
  • Top 10 Mutual Funds. B06
  • "The odd couple of Mad Men: Peggy and Don." B08
  • "Next Three." C02
  • "Haas leads, ex-champs close." C03
  • "Cup Rookie L Arson Relishes Challenge." C10
  • "Elbow problems often begin at young age." C10
  • Easter. D02
  • "More is not better here." D04
  • Crossword. E01
  • Horoscopes. E04

For some words, one of the following modifications was made to the source:

  • change in verb tense, e.g. bolts-->bolt
  • change in noun from plural to singular or vice versa
  • erasure across a phrase to form a new word, e.g. steps downàsown