Oulipoem 22: April 22 — Antonymy

22 Apr

Be sure to spend some time wandering the amazing and wonderful work of other ouliposters.

The prompt:

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.

The original lines are all headlines from the Op-Ed section of the SF Chronicle. I shuffled their order and get more of a kick from the original. I shuffled again in my final piece and played with line breaks and punctuation.

Original lines:
Playing deal or no deal with income inequality
Governments need to stand their ground on stock exchanges
Huge wealth gap caused backlash before and may again
Beware the Republican majority on the Supreme Court
Political parties irrelevant in the age of the super PAC
Business leaders’ double standards on workers’ rights
No dividing line on who cares about the value of work
The idea of nationhood fades, tribalism returns

The result of antonymy:

Disregard a monarchist minority
under a lesser disassembly, stopping
dissension and conception without
spending equality; tiny poverty parity
ended apathy after, or won’t anymore —
anarchists need not be irresolute
under unconventional stagnation.

Independents relevant out of a moment
of ordinary sloth. Unemployment followers’
single extremes under unemployed’s wrongs —
a reality of utopia growing — introversion
disappears, an existence of a uniting circle
which disregards a disadvantage of idleness.

The source:

Titles of today’s Op-Ed pieces in the San Francisco Chronicle 22 April 2014


Posted by on 22/04/2014 in exercises, oulipost, poems, poetry


Tags: , , , , ,

6 responses to “Oulipoem 22: April 22 — Antonymy

  1. Misky

    22/04/2014 at 1:42 pm

    Margo, I don’t find it clunky at all. But that’s my personal feeling. It is a very weighty topic though!


    • margo roby

      22/04/2014 at 1:46 pm

      That might be the problem, Misk. I usually try and stay away from weighty.

  2. whimsygizmo

    22/04/2014 at 2:48 pm

    I like the feel of this line, especially, Margo:
    “disappears, an existence of a uniting circle”

    This calls to mind a circle formed of disappearing smoke, a poof! moment where something once unified dissolves. Lovely.

    I’m here:

    I liked this exercise, very much. I like that opposite words leave room for interpretation, poetical license. 😉

    • margo roby

      22/04/2014 at 3:39 pm

      I agree, de. That’s what the exercises in general are showing me: the alternate interpretations, which add whole new possibles.

      After writing the line you quote, I typed ‘cue Circle of Life’. Almost left it in.

  3. julespaige

    22/04/2014 at 4:57 pm

    From serious to sort of serious…a bit fun…another short form …thanks to…well you’ll see:


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