Oulipoem 27: April 27 — The Irrational Sonnet

27 Apr

As our brains turn to a condition I refer to as mind mush, it seems fitting to be working on an irrational sonnet. I had a great deal of fun writing this [now that the spectre of a traditional sonnet has been put aside]. I admit that the poem got to a point where I knew I was going to post it, sonnet-like, or not, because I liked it. It does have 14 lines and it is irrational in its stanza breaks. There is even an iambic-ness in many lines. Unusually for me, I decided against starting and ending punctuation.

My sources are primarily two articles from the Book Review section of The Wall Street Journal and one phrase from a third review. I pulled lines and phrases and then started braiding. I was startled when I found myself heading on a surreal tack, not something my literal brain does. I thoroughly enjoyed the entire process.

Be sure to check for links in the comments below, as well as heading over to the FPR.

A heads up to all the people who have been following and writing and posting poems: the final poem requires that we take one line from each previous poem and combine them to form a new poem. I know!

The prompt:

‘Create a 14-line sonnet sourced from lines from your newspaper that is divided according to the first five digits of the irrational number pi โ€“ that is, into stanzas of 3, 1, 4, 1 and 5 lines. As with the preceding sonnet assignment you may interpret โ€œsonnetโ€ as formally or as loosely as you wish.’

The poem:

two women waiting for a tram peer through a wall
a girl hangs ghost-like from a washing line
a train conductor dances in a shaft of sunlight

denying his traitorous actions to the end

a hunter, a searcher for something simple, a jigsaw
puzzle with the image emerging, a shaping hand
a collection of eyewitness reports, a study of patterns
in squares, in isolation, even imprisonment

reiterating the broken circle painted on the boards

emerging from sun-shrouding dust, how they remained
silent for decades, for decades silent, and how they met
through light this year without summer, fit together
as the final piece slipped onto the board, reiterating
the broken circle painted, his traitorous actions

The sources:

O’Donnell, Michael. ‘Hiding in Plain Sight’ Books The Wall Street Journal 27 April 2014
The Editors. ‘Photo-Op: The Figure In The Carpet’ Books The Wall Street Journal 27 April 2014
Winchester, Simon. ‘A-Once-a-Millenium Blast’ Books The Wall Street Journal 27 April 2014


Posted by on 27/04/2014 in exercises, oulipost, poetry


Tags: , , , , , , ,

12 responses to “Oulipoem 27: April 27 — The Irrational Sonnet

  1. Laurie Kolp

    27/04/2014 at 1:06 pm

    I’ve been so impressed with all your poems, Margo. My mind would be slush by now, too, but it certainly doesn’t appear as if yours is that way.

    • margo roby

      27/04/2014 at 1:13 pm

      Thank you, so much, Laurie. I appear to be getting a second wind [we won’t mention the condition of my surroundings].

  2. whimsygizmo

    27/04/2014 at 1:09 pm

    Love this, especially:
    “a train conductor dances in a shaft of sunlight

    denying his traitorous actions to the end”

    Something about the blend of train and traitorous pleases my ears to no end. Love your subtle use of repetition, too.

    I had great fun with this one, too, Margo. So happy to have switched sources, and be tripping into some great lines.

    • margo roby

      27/04/2014 at 1:16 pm

      That train conductor!

      While I don’t have your ear [yet!] sound is my favourite device to play with and to find in poems.

      I decided a couple of prompts back that source is everything with these prompts. Glad you found one you like. I’m on my way.

      • whimsygizmo

        27/04/2014 at 1:18 pm

        Yes! These are true Found Poems for me, now. I dig around and write down every line I love, pieces of things that delight me, especially when paired. And then braid them all, Cento-like. It’s been a blast. Thanks so much for letting me come along for the journey. ๐Ÿ™‚

        • margo roby

          27/04/2014 at 1:21 pm

          de, I wouldn’t have missed your company for anything ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. kaykuala

    27/04/2014 at 7:53 pm

    Beautifully done Margo! No restrictions nor inhibitions an irrational sonnet that still seems rational with your treatment! Great!


  4. Misky

    28/04/2014 at 4:03 am

    OMG! This is amazing!



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