Tag Archives: San Francisco Chronicle

Oulipoem 30: April 30 — Patchwork Quilt

So, here we are, at last. I hate to let it go. It has been an extraordinary month of camaraderie, learning, and poetry. So many thanks to everyone for the fun, but most of all to Jenni and Beth who orchestrated the project and Doug who designed tools to help with many of the prompts. You can find all three over at the Found Poetry Review, as well as the final poems of my fellow Oulipoemers.

For our final prompt, we were asked to ‘Conclude the project by writing a poem that incorporates the words and lines from all of your past 29 poems’. As happens so often, the poem went in its own direction. I couldn’t shake the train conductor.

The poem:

Crow woman is a season

— this was one piece
out of a moment,

a study of patterns
in isolation
even imprisonment —

when a train conductor (who secretly
has a story to tell locked in)
dances in a shaft of sunlight.

(all we can do is trace out patterns,
an exclamation point
missed moments,mercurial moments)

Night brings his lips tickly with still.
He ignores his thin chances,
never stops to think —
feels the power, sees no threat —

(don’t try to cool the fires
let tempers flare fierce and bright)

a door closes
carefully    — important —

a death sentence on the run
lost terrified and besieged by the wild forest
the fictitious focus

(because we know what happens
— the real reason they jump —
a recent misstep,
a sense of abandonment
the end of the world —
the pieces will fall into place)

where a girl hangs
ghost-like from the washing line
roots cut loose
a duration in search of a translation
(her world     her window     her strange inspiration
takes flight — cyan woe. Pull.
The kite has small wings.)

Dahlias, acacia, jasmine,
long-stemmed roses,
powdery stephanotis, lilies
and hydrangeas —

the spreading of her ashes was at sea.

The sources:

The material is from my last 29 poems, therefore from the San Francisco Chronicle and The Wall Street Journal, whose writers I give all my thanks.



Posted by on 30/04/2014 in exercises, oulipost, poetry


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Oulipoem 25: April 25 — Braiding (Larding)

The official title of the prompt is Larding which has interesting connotations, but Braiding, given to us by ouliposter Jody Rich, is so much prettier. I had a ball putting this together but then anything that smacks of remixing… My only problem, as I posted to our Facebook group, was finding a way to lay the work draft out so that I was able to see the places where I needed to add lard. I was using highlights as a code and going nuts, so when you take this on, my advice is to break after each sentence and triple space between, so you know where a new sentence needs to go.

To watch how one builds, head over to Amanda Earl’s and you can watch paragraph by paragraph. After I had my final paragraph, I chose to play with line-breaks. My sources were diverse [and became a mash-up of two newspapers]and while it may sound like I relied heavily on the horoscope, I used several phrases from the great lime crisis article. I didn’t know such passion was connected with limes.

To read what others have come up with wander over to the FPR’s page for today.

The prompt:

‘Aka “line stretching.” From your newspaper text, pick two sentences. Add a new sentence between the first two; then two sentences in the new intervals that have become available; and continue to add sentences until the passage has attained the length desired. The supplementary sentences must either enrich the existing narrative or create a new narrative continuity.’ Yes, all sentences from the newspaper.

Original sentences:

Never underestimate the power of imagination.  Stay true to your vision and the pieces will soon fall into place.

The poem:

the warfare between man and wife

Never underestimate the power of imagination: Imagine
being alone in a strange place with peculiar scents,
frightening noises, and no food, water or shelter. One minute
you’re cold and aloof and the next minute you’re distant
and unfriendly, cloudy with a chance of rain. Warnings are posted.

The last thing anyone needs is more finger pointing. You
weren’t sure these past few days, but you stood your ground.
The timing could hardly be worse. Don’t make it a guessing game.
Ask straight out. There’s such a thing as being in the right,
at the wrong time. A recent misstep, some signs of the times.

One might have a sense of abandonment. Overcast with a chance
of a thunderstorm and rain showers isn’t the end of the world.
Stay true to your vision — the pieces will fall into place.

The sources:

Alter, Alexandra. ‘The Warfare Between Man And Wife’ The Wall Street Journal Book Club 25 April 2014
Duffy, J.C. ‘The Fusco Brothers’ Comics The San Francisco Chronicle 25 April 2014
Jordan, Miriam and Jose DeCordoba. ‘Yes, We Have No Limes: Shortage Squeezes Bars, Eateries The Wall Street Journal  25 April 2014
Mitchell, Eileen. ‘Fellow homeless kitten becomes blind cat’s buddy, guide’ San Francisco Chronicle 25 April 2014
Renstrom, Christopher. Horoscope. San Francisco Chronicle 25 April 2014
San Francisco Chronicle Weather Report 25 April 2014


Posted by on 25/04/2014 in exercises, oulipost, poetry


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Oulipoem 24: April 24 — Homosyntaxism

I am using a recording app on my phone to read notes into. I knew it wouldn’t have homosyntaxism, but I was curious, so I spoke. It responded with: ‘almost in taxes’.

Be sure to check out some of the other posters, both in my comments below and at the FPR.

The prompt:

Homosyntaxism is a method of translation that preserves only the syntactic order of the original words. To give a rudimentary example, if N=noun, V=verb and A=adjective, the outline NVA could yield solutions such as “The day turned cold,” “Violets are blue,” “An Oulipian! Be wary!”)

Option 1: Choose a sentence from your newspaper source text and write as many homosyntaxisms as possible based on that same variation.

Option 2: Complete a homosyntaxism of an entire paragraph or article found in your text.

I, in my restless sleeping, had an epiphany. Of course, this is just a copy change, but with prose. For those who have never done one, it’s like a giant mad lib. Take out the nouns, verbs, adjectives and some adverbs, noting which are where. Leave a structural framework. When I did this exercise with poems, I left words like when, but, and, anything that was not major in meaning but helped me see the structure.

With this, you can try that with a bunch of short sentences, or find a short passage you like, put in line breaks, then replace words and tinker. After much casting about, I elected Option 1. I was helped in my decision when I read Mildred’s. She chose a VERY short sentence. Thus I was inspired.

The poem:

I am trying
I am looking
I am calling
I am searching
I am hoping
I am missing
I am seeking
I am leaving
I am passing

I am dying

The source:

I went for the Classifieds in the end. My source sentence was: I am searching.


Posted by on 24/04/2014 in exercises, oulipost, poems, poetry


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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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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 14: April 14 — Article to Ads, Column Inches

I can be a little slow. Admittedly, my focus has been divided a trifle, the past two weeks. There are many, many talented poets writing in the Oulipo Challenge, official and un-! Please wander over to their site on the Found Poetry Review and check a few out each day. For the unofficials, check the links in my comments, each day. There have been so many wonderfully creative poems.

The prompt:

‘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.’ Today’s prompt was a challenge until I saw Mildred’s response. Then, I knew what I wanted to do or, at least, had a direction.

The process:

Although I am back in Atlanta, my paper, the Wall Street Journal, lacks a few things, like classifieds, so I headed for the San Francisco Chronicle online to find what I needed: Horoscopes + Classifieds, a marriage made in, well… I ended up with something other than I started. I had a column of phrases from the classifieds and a column of nouns from the horoscope. I tried matching them to tell a story, but when I noticed a shape, I added a constraint: The lines had to lead up to and away from the longest line. That’s when I ended up with something I like better than the first something.

The poem:

[This is what I had when I went to open my document in Notepad, just now: no file… anywhere. I searched. I don’t have the heart, or the energy, to recreate the poem, so am not going to, but it did occur to me that I needed to post this for links to be left! So, write poems. Post poems. Leave links. I shall retire to a corner and weep piteously. Piteously, I tell you.]


Where is     life?

lost      chapter
missing      page
searching for      faith
looking for       history
looking to      old habits
trying to locate     a map
desperately seeking      balance
in search of     a  translation
looking to find      changes
looking for an old      risk
hoping to find      nerves
if you know      people

I loved you     once

I didn’t even get your      name
please call, I miss     stars

truly, madly, deeply,


The source:

HOROSCOPE for Monday, 4/14/14 by Christopher Renstrom – SFGate


Posted by on 14/04/2014 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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Oulipo 11: April 11 — Univocalism

A heads up: a call for submissions to Red Wolf Issue #2. I’ll post the info tomorrow.

Having enjoyed the lipogram, I was not as fearful as I might have been of this prompt. I played with the idea of structuring the poem with a different vowel per stanza, but finally settled on the vowel I originally thought I wanted, ‘i’.

My own constraint was to take all my words from one article in the Chronicle’s ‘Datebook’ [which is where I am sourcing all my poems]. The columnist, Jon Carroll, had wonderful words to play with. I copied them down in order, but ended up shifting some around, except for tickly/ with/ still, which is the serendipitous combination that caught me.

The prompt:

‘A univocalist 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 must be sourced from your newspaper.’

The poem:

his lips


his lips

win     I


The source:

Jon Carroll’s Column: ‘Datebook’ San Francisco Chronicle.  11 April 2014. E3


Posted by on 11/04/2014 in exercises, oulipost, poems, poetry, writing


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