Tag Archives: NaPoWriMo

Oulipoem 22: April 22 — Antonymy

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


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Oulipoem 21: April 21 — Confabulation: He Said, She Said

The prompt:

Self-explanatory, isn’t it? Craft a conversation poem using “he said/she said” quotes that you find in newspaper articles.


Okay, I went down a different track [you like the way I say I broke the rules?]. I can tell you that the Monday Wall Street Journal does not lend itself to this and I can no longer access the complete San Francisco Chronicle [I can reach non-hefty parts, such as horoscope, and comics] So, I’ve mashed them. Part of the conversation comes from a WSJ article and part of it comes from five comics in the SFC.

The poem:


Okay, so what was that all about?

I don’t understand —
everybody’s in a panic.

Best guess?

It hit a nerve.

I’m shocked at how many people…

I’m not doing anything out there.

So tell me more about your idea.
I don’t quite get it yet.

Well my research tells me
that people like stories
but they don’t like words.


I have no idea what that means.

So what’s the plan?

Get out of here.


The sources:

Conley, Darby. ‘Get Fuzzy’ The San Francisco Chronicle 21 April 2014
Connors, Will. ‘Will Shortage Of Pussy Willows Put A Damper On Dyngus Day’. The Wall Street Journal 21 April 2014
Duffy, J.C. ‘The Fusco Brothers’ The San Francisco Chronicle 21 April 2014
Evans Greg. ‘Luann’ The San Francisco Chronicle 21 April 2014
Miller, Wiley. ‘Non Sequitur’ The San Francisco Chronicle 21 April 2014
Schulz, Charles. ‘Peanuts’ The San Francisco Chronicle 21 April 2014


Posted by on 21/04/2014 in exercises, oulipost, poems, poetry, writing


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Oulipoem 20: April 20 — Lescurean Permutations

The prompt:

Select a newspaper article or passage from a newspaper article as your source text.

Plain Permutation: 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.

Alternate Permutation: The 1st noun changes place with the 3rd, the 2nd with the 4th, etc.

Bracketed Permutation: The 1st noun changes place with the 4th, the 2nd with the 3rd, etc.

Roussellian Permutation: The 1st noun changes place with the last, the 2nd with the next to last, etc.

I tried each but, for my passage, the plain works best. The passage I chose is part of an essay on Dante’s Divine Comedy as self-help book [Dreher makes an interesting case]. To see what others have done be sure to check in my comments, as well as the Found Poetry Review‘s page.

The original passage [with minor deletions]:

On the evening of Good Friday, a man on the run from a death sentence wakes up in a dark forest, lost, terrified and besieged by wild animals. He spends an infernal Easter week hiking through a dismal cave, climbing up a grueling mountain, and taking what you might call the long way home.
It all works out for him, though. The traveler returns from his ordeal a better man, determined to help others learn from his experience. He writes a book about his to hell and back trek…
…..In a letter… the poet said that the goal of his trilogy… is “to remove those living in this life from the state of misery and lead them to the state of bliss”.
The Comedy does this by inviting the reader to reflect on his own failings, showing him how to fix things and regain a sense of direction, and ultimately how to live in love and harmony with God and others.
This glorious medieval cathedral in verse arose from the rubble of Dante’s life.

The poem:

On the Friday of good evening
a death sentence on the run from man
wakes up in a dark animal

lost, terrified, and besieged by the wild forest.
He spends an infernal Easter cave hiking
through a dismal week, climbing up a grueling

long way home and taking what you might call
the mountain. The ordeal returns from his traveler
a better other. Determined to help man learn

from his book, he writes an experience
about his to hell and back trek. In a poet,
a letter said, the trilogy of his goal

is to remove those living in this misery
from the state of life and lead them
to the state of bliss. The reader does this

by inviting the comedy to reflect on his own
things, showing him how to fix failings
and regain a sense of love and ultimately

how to live in direction and with God, harmony
and others. This glorious medieval verse in cathedral
arose from the life of Dante’s rubble.

The source:

Dreher, Ron. ‘Dante’s Path to Paradise.’ Review Section. Wall Street Journal 20 April 2014


Posted by on 20/04/2014 in exercises, oulipost, poems, poetry, writing


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Oulipo 19: April 10 — Sestina

Sestinas have enough constraints with their form, or so you might think. Now, place the extra constraint of having to source all your words from the newspaper. Exactly. A moment of silence, please.

I had an idea. Granted it might be considered weaseling (I thought of it as damn clever), my brain was willing to go with it. I was halfway through the sixth stanza (the next to last, people), when my brain reminded me that all the words had to come from the newspaper. The only things I had drawn from the paper were the end words and some names. Another moment of silence, if you will.

I decided to go bare bones with my original idea. I’m not thrilled with either but I have two sestinas (my first), so I am posting both. The first follows the rules strictly; the second is the one I was almost through when my brain murmured at me. I amused myself by posting it as was at the moment my brain so murmured, lacking the envoi and unformatted.

For those who do not know sestinas try this by Amanda Earl, keeping in mind she had to take everything from the paper. For other sestinas, as they come in, keep an eye on the Found Poetry Review‘s sestina page. My favourite, sent around as inspiration is ‘Six Words‘ by poet Lloyd Schwartz. What is the form? Check this page.

The poem by the rules:

So Many Channels, So Little Time

Weather Center Live in the mornings @ 7
Good Morning America on ABC @ 9
This Old House PBS @11
Thursdays: first round PGA Golf is on @ 1
but switches channels to CBS @ 3
Antiques Roadshow on PBS for three hours 🙂 @ 5

Or, early, early, Wolfgang Puck Presents @ 5 (a.m.!)
followed by Buffy the Vampire Slayer reruns @ 7 (a.m.!)
[QVC’s How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep (irony) was @ 3]
Sesame Street on PBS @ 9
Maybe, Rick Steves’ Europe… Italy? England? @ 1
Still up, watching Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown @11

Sometimes, in the mornings, A Taste of Louisiana @ 11
following the early, early, Wolfgang Puck Presents @ 5.
Fridays: second round PGA Golf is on @ 1
Most evenings Jeopardy and the Wheel @ 7
Saturday? Yes, it’s Saturday: As Time Goes By @ 9
Early/late — Highway Through Hell (weather) @ 3

On weekday afternoons, Closing Bell @ 3
Late at night, CSI: Miami @ 11
Earlier,  Charlie Rose: The Week @ 9
Today’s early weekend movie, Avatar @ 5
Laugh with the movie Down Periscope @ 7
Late, late night, Big Ass Spider! on Syfy @ 1

PGA Golf third round play @ 1
Still watching PGA Golf @ 3
Nothing on = Gilligan’s Island @ 7
followed by Everybody Loves Raymond @ 11
Wake up with BBC News @ 5
Have coffee with the Travel Channel @ 9

Hours of The Big Bang Theory @ 9
Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, Diners, Drive-ins… @ 1
Continue waking up with BBC News @ 5
Final Round of PGA Golf @ 3
Hours earlier, Golf Pre-game [yes, golf, pre-game] @ 11
Post evening meal, Marijuana in America CNBC @ 7

From cooking at 9 to redesigning houses at 3
From weekend movies at 1 to sports’ recaps at 11
From morning news at 5 to evening games at 7

so many channels, so little time

If you are still with me, the original poem (I am leaving it unformatted; easier on the eyes):

In the morning, I watch the weather at 7;
Good Morning America is my background at 9
and I might shift to This Old House at 11;
PGA Golf takes care of  four days, starting at 1
but I have to switch channels from Golf to CBS at 3;
Happy hour is spent Naked and Afraid at 5.

Often, I am cooking dinner when 5
rolls around, but I can hear the narrative. Then, at 7
it’s the night-time shows which the 3
of us watch together until I go read at 9.
If I can’t sleep I’ll turn the TV on at 1–
I’ll drink my Ovaltine and pretend it’s 11-sies.

If I’ve been up the night before, I pay by 11
and drag around until my husband returns at 5.
I’ll have had my third coffee early, say around 1
another at three, but am dozing in the recliner by 7.
I like to doze to NCIS, or CSI, maybe Castle, until 9
but I try to stay awake, so I won’t be up at 3

because we know what happens when we’re up at 3
we’re staring blankly at the computer screen by 11
as if we’d run a marathon, or thought it might be 9
at night, but of course it isn’t. I have to make it to 5
because there’s dinner and those shows I mentioned, at 7;
but maybe, if I’m lucky, maybe I’ll be asleep at 1

and sleep four, maybe five hours in a row. It’s 1
of the items on my bucket list, sleeping well. Maybe 3
times a year it happens, but I’m off topic. Sometimes at 7,
if it’s a weekend, we treat ourselves to a movie until 11.
On weekdays, I am up with my husband at 5
but on weekends, I strive mightily to stay in bed until 9

Maybe today, I’ll watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer at 9,
rather than weather. The reruns take me to 1
and then I’ll have coffee, so I can make it to 5
make dinner, watch Castle, or CSI Miami, sometimes 3
in a row before bedtime rolls around again at 11.
In the mornings, I watch the Weather Channel at 7

9 3
1 11
5 7


Comcast’s TVGuide



Posted by on 19/04/2014 in exercises, oulipost, poems, poetry, writing


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Oulipo 18: April 18 — Homoconsonantism

Epithalamium was easier to say. Sharp eyes will have noticed I did not title this an oulipoem. It isn’t, but I have done the exercise. Now someone do it and show me it’s fun.

While she does not say she had fun, one of my co-oulipers just posted while I was writing this and I love the last two lines. Check out Quillfyre’s result.

The prompt:

‘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.’

The process:

It’s not that hard to do, the basic that is. Making it something useful, never mind good, is a whole ‘nother matter. I chose the San Francisco Chronicle’s online T.V.Guide as my source, as it is the only format I can live with, not having something coherent.

original phrases:

Today In The Bay
Paid Program
Shepherd’s Chapel
Easy Yoga Strength
Democracy Now
Safari Tracks

with vowels replaced:

Tidy Ninth Buoy
ipad Up: Rig Room
Ship Hoarde [is achy, pale]
Say! You Go Strong, Tho’
More Kitty Place
Idiom Care — Cyan Woe
As For Tricks

The source:

On-line ‘T.V.Guide’. San Francisco Chronicle. 18 April 2014

I was going to make it look like a T.V.Guide entry and discovered enough of a dislike for this not to. Bring on tomor… oh, wait. Tomorrow’s the sestina. Sounds of flight


Posted by on 18/04/2014 in exercises, oulipost, poems, poetry, writing


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Oulipoem 17: April 17 — Haikuisation

If you are enjoying reading these, be sure to head over to today’s haiku page at the Found Poetry Review.

The prompt:

‘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.’

The process:

One thing I love about our oulipo-ing ourselves [aside from taking oulipo and creating every part of speech in existence for it], is that we can constrain the constraints, or tweak them. In the haikuisation of sentences in the newspaper, I went with ‘haiku-like brevity’ from the rules above. The one thing I tried to maintain is the volta, the turn from beginning to end, which in haiku, is rather abrupt.

The poem:


When you’re feeling foul
it isn’t easy to be fair —
your effort is appreciated.


Before it’s too late
straighten out these mixed signals:
you are pushing someone away.


When tempers are tense
you need to watch what you say:
insinuate, don’t agitate.


Profitable contacts are about;
you want to meet and greet.
Don’t let today go to waste.


For more breathing room
reshuffling is in order —
discover along the way.


Someone’s checking you out,
you, too preoccupied to notice —
offer an opening.


Skip the obvious choice;
only one will go the distance.
Go with the underdog.


People think you’re tough;
you should be more obvious.
Wear your heart on your sleeve.


You may not have the answer
to someone’s woes, but time.
Hours with you banish the blues.


Just another interview?
Stay alert. This could pan out
into something exciting.


Don’t try to cool the fires:
let tempers flare fierce and bright —
people will see reason soon.


Take a chance on love —
it’s better than sitting on the fence
watching the world go by.

The source:

Renstrom, Christopher. ‘HOROSCOPE’ San Francisco Chronicle 4/17/14

Yes, yes, I did have entirely too much fun.


Posted by on 17/04/2014 in exercises, oulipost, poems, poetry


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Oulipoem 16: April 16 — Chimera

This exercise was great fun to prep. I can see, using other sources, that this has possibilities for my particular armoury. Before we get to the prompt, the Editors and Staff of the Found Poetry Review have taken the time [God knows from where. I’m pretty sure they don’t even have time to breathe.] for a Halftime Report, where each of them have picked a few examples of what has been happening among the oulipoets. Should you have plenty of time on your hands [say during a commute, at the dentist, on a conference call] check out the main page for each day’s contribution. You’ll quickly identify a few poets to follow.

The prompt:

‘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.’ I did so. The only thing I tweaked was to repeat ‘no matter’.

The poem:

Gather the actor of your artist
the unflappable ultra skills. No matter

where the sales yell the role, it does not
slip — important to shout for the actor —

which throws why the instructor slips here,
to refer to the job. No matter. Win

your upper problem and warn for years
of life’s degrees, even the fictitious focus.

The sources:

Main: an ad for the Lincoln Financial Group

Nouns: Shellenbarger, Sue. ‘Typecast at Work Actor Finds a New Role in a Tech Job’ Work & Family Wall Street Journal 16 April 2014

Verbs: Robinson, Joshua. ‘Liverpool is in control but can the Reds hang on’ Sports Wall Street Journal 16 April 2014

Adjectives: Fowler, Geoffrey A. ‘Cool Tube: Testing Out Ultra High Definition TV’ Home & Digital Wall Street Journal 16 April 2014

Now, go read some of the wonderful work coming from ouliposters. Then try your hand at an ouliprompt.


Posted by on 16/04/2014 in exercises, oulipost, poems, poetry, writing


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Oulipoem 15: April 15 — Prisoner’s Constraint

Yesterday’s lost poem has been found!

Today’s prompt:

“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.”

The process:

I love my Wall Street Journal but I may have to resort to online newspapering so I can continue to use the SF Chronicle. The Journal lacks too much of the odd stuff like the comics, horoscopes, classifieds… we’ll see. Today, I picked an article from the ‘Health & Wellness’ section of the WSJ. I copied down all words that fit the rules [I found I had to go back and double-check myself].

My added constraint: I had to use the words in the order I found them, except for the two letter words, which I inserted where they help sense. My satisfaction quotient: middlin’.

The poem:


is a


over —






The source:

Wall Street Journal. ‘Health & Wellness’ Quick Cures/Quack Cures: under eye bags. 15 April 2014


Posted by on 15/04/2014 in exercises, oulipost, poems, poetry, writing


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Oulipoem 13: April 13 — Epithalamium

Now, there’s a mouthful.

The prompt:

An epithalamium is a poem written to celebrate the wedding, or more precisely the wedding bed. ‘An Oulipian epithalamium is composed exclusively with the letters of the names of the bride and bridegroom [bride and bride, groom and groom]. Visit the announcements section of your paper and select one couple. Write a poem using only words that can be made with the letters of their names.’ You may choose first names or full names depending on what you are comfortable with.

The process:

I chose full names, so I thank Judith Orlando and John Tamagni, may they live long and prosper. I entered their names into Scrabble Finder‘s wonderful word maker and chose words from the list. As the names are too long, I entered them in several permutations: johnjudith, judithorlando, johnorlando… As I needed something quick and enjoyed today’s sonnet exercise so much, I chose that as my form, sonnets being particularly suitable.

The poem:

— morning
round —

The source:

I am away from my wonderful source so have used the wedding section of the New York Times, online.




Posted by on 13/04/2014 in exercises, oulipost, poems, poetry, writing


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Oulipoem 12: April 12 — Sonnet

First things first: A call for submissions for Red Wolf Issue #2? This will be their summer issue and you can read all the info by heading over… after you write a poem.

The prompt:

‘Write a sonnet sourced from lines found in newspaper articles. You may choose your own sonnet type 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.’

A sonnet. Silence. Throws minor fit of despair. Receives much ‘there, there-ing’ the most important of which came from one of my co-participants, Carol A. Stephen, in the form of: You can write a sonnet of one word per line. Really? Perks up. No metre, or rhyme, but it does have a roughly 4x4x4x2 structure and a volta.

The poem:

night —
drifting —

The source:

Wiegand, David. ‘Cash jazzes up songs of South’; Datebook Music Review, San Francisco Chronicle; 12 April 2014. E3


Posted by on 12/04/2014 in exercises, oulipost, poems, poetry, writing


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