A Mariner is
at last a
Life is just what happens to you
All in : noon
no A on
On-line an &
no I U one a-
Beau Présent Sound Maps
Poems were constructed from numerous articles in Seattle Times 08 April 2014 Print Replica.
Note on composition and process:
These poems were an experiment with the Oulipean form, Beau Présent, or the Beautiful In-law. The concept of the form is meant to honor a person by using only the letters of their name to make a poem. In keeping with the Oulipost project, the honorees of these Beau Présents are pulled from today’s Seattle Times, as is the text content of the poems.
As I’ve done with quite a few of these forms so far, I started with the print replica of today’s Seattle Times (it’s the print version in pdf form). I copied and pasted all of the text into a Word document, stripped the formatting, and separated out each page of the paper. I then hunted for names on each page. I wanted to play with letter availability, concept, theme, etc. Once I had done that, I ran the lipogram tool on Doug Luman’s handy Ouliposcript app to eliminate words with letters not present in the assigned names (Doug actually has a new tool specifically for the beau présent, but I didn’t realize until I had already done most of the work). I then stripped out all the numbers and most of the punctuation, which resulted in the sound maps, three of which I’ve pictured above. I then eliminated all the white space and began cutting many of the repeated word, while retaining as much of the order as possible. The result is the first two poems, which come from page A1 and A2 respectively. The first one, “Home Opener” takes some liberty with the name, using instead of a person’s name, the name of our local baseball team, the Seattle Mariners (the main front page story was about today’s M’s home opener. The second honoree is Julian Lennon (son of John), who page A2 says turns 51 today. I took the title from John Lennon’s song “Beautiful Boy.”
I really like how these are turning out, though I’m aware the syntax bending I borrow from vispo, lettrism, and zaum is not everyone’s cup of tea. But I just love palindromes like “no A on” especially after a line ending with the word noon. It’s the kind of visual punning I always loved in texts like Bp Nicol’s Zygal. I keep coming up with these fun surprises and it’s only been a week. I’m excited to see where the month takes all this!