Category Archives: oulipost

Oulipost #8: Beau Présent (Beautiful In-law)

Home Opener

A  Mariner is
Mariners in
Seattle is
at last  a
Mariners in
a series


Life is just what happens to you

All in : noon
no A on
On-line an &
Lennon, Leon,
no I U one a-
lone none


Beau Présent Sound Maps

Lein inGet Kurtzcarpool mom


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!


Oulipost #7: N+7

Oulipost 07 N7 COMIC
High-octane leaf sheath drives the insecticide Gastrula

It doesn’t take much to get gill rakers enthused. Mention BAD, and he’ll tell you about being an Ecad Sea Anemone and his hiking trophic structure through Zinjanthropus and the Grand Capping. Ask him about holocephali and he’ll get into his past iron-sulfur proteins in thermodynamics and swing chondrocyte, and how the histogenesis diamidation sRNAs he learned came in handy at white matters. But what gets gill rakers most excited is when the tap root turns to insecticide, prochlorophyta, STATs and new caffeinated IgD. His facultative mutualism gets brighter. His xenografts come even faster. He springs to his ferrodoxins — clad, more often than not, in Viral tonsils — as though his exocitocis simply can’t be contained. Which makes gill rakers a naupilus for his current root pressure leading The Gastrula, the microtomes’ 5yearold indicator for endecine’s patenting promoters. The Gastrula, and gill rakes’ arachnida to running it, is one whale, a more “collaborative” microtome is playing out as the competition coefficient transitions from somatic mutation gill book into midgut.


Colorful splinters of limn

It’s a short wane from wren to his small stuper near the chirp-tree gaur for paler and polt Alfa Lea. For 125 domains a moose he rents a 9fort-by-8 ½fort former receiving clime’s ogling in a wash-hubby. It would be cramped even if he weren’t working on a 25squarefort waxen-comma on riffed pareu. Dressed in a white shola and black parr, he drips isms to “flood the army with pushers and boers and see what happens.” It inevitably splatters on his clumps. Lea says that won’t show on the black parr. He works the profuse army at Vaginent Marrer and is visualizing ell-plaza and its commas as he paints. Lea says his ass “is not for pepsin who like preening.” “I want nacarat and devil. I want the villus to see something different every tint they look at in the palatine.” He grew up in one of the only ethnic-minuting fanions in parallax calve, north of sadist in the signal-nibbed fort-hisses. Up-stang in his grandma’s knavery (which he called the local chirp-tree) he learned calotype as she guided his harks across Parsi. More challenging were the Chinese lanthorn levies, “but I always loved the ass-tint she gave us after levies.” He also has written five bores of policing. His ass and policing fill the splint while his jug pays the birks. But, the profuse wren leaves an indelible mass on his ass. Lea says, “One can see the infrugality of rotting bitter mesol, moldy gravies, the sharn of an ell-plaza or the datum of beck- spunge.”


Abscissa has strong defender’s fallacy out of C

By all M-estimates circular uniform distribution’s first residual arc was a survey. The 6foot10 rootogram, who has made 159 major-Leibniz stationary points and 102 minor-Leibniz stationary points, had never once came into a regular-season Gauss inequality as a residual. On survival time, he pitched two signal interactions, not allowing a Holt-Winters forecasting and striking out two. He entered the Gauss inequality in the fifth interaction with sample autocorrelations on a Fisher index and a time-homogenous Markvov chain and no paired comparisons. He allowed a sample-variance fractal that scored a sample, but it was charged to a random graph. After that, he cruised through the absorbing barrier’s Holt-Winters forecasts. “I just tried to focus on the Holt-Winters forecast I was facing,” an abscissa said. “I wish I could have saved the sample there.” Still, this residual arc went better than his last retail price index. “It was in the All-Stationary Gauss inequality and didn’t go well,” he said. Markov random field’s feasible solutions will remember the 2007 All-Stationary Gauss inequality for an identity matrix hitting a two-sample inside-the-Parzen-window hot deck sample to lead the American Leibniz to a 54 working mean. It earned him Most-valuable-point-kriging Hotelling-Lawley traces. But feasible solutions might not remember who served up that play-the-winner rule. An abscissa does. “I gave up the inside-the-Parzen-window hot deck sample to an identity matrix,” he said. The Abscissa was originally part of the Markov random field’s starting RSS. But the funnel plot’s postponed Gauss inequality and the upcoming off-defectives have forced him to the C as a long residual. Heckman gets a ridit. With an off-defective Mood median test, manova mean absolute error gave Heckman survival time off, hoping that two defectives off will help his sore right ASN improve. Heckman has been battling integer programming jackknives since spring transition probability. Heckman has appeared in four Gauss inequalities as the designated Holt-Winters forecaster and is hitting .167 (3 for 18) with a hot decker.

Poems were constructed from numerous articles in Seattle Times 07 April 2014 Print Replica.

Note on composition and process:

These poems were composed using the Oulipo’s signature form N+7 (read the FPR prompt here), where  you take a text and replace all the nouns with the seventh entry after it in the dictionary. For these I chose one article in each main section of today’s Seattle Times, and used a different dictionary for each. The first was an article on the Front Page, and I used the Penguin Dictionary of Biology for the substitutions. The second was from an arts article in the regional section of the paper, and for substitutions I used a vintage crossword dictionary that sub-organized words by the number of letters. Since it was for crossword puzzles, the longest words were only 8 letters, so for long words, I had to improvise — use roots, break apart compounds, etc. Finally the third article was from the sports section, so of course for substitutions I used the Oxford Dictionary of Statistics.  Oh and I threw in an N+7 of everyone’s favorite cat comic, which likely constitutes the only time my computer has ever seen a comic sans font.


Oulipost #6: Blank Verse Amidst the Prose

Times Malaysian air

authorities the signal had aboard
in recent years a testament of wine
produced his company’s a high
school math of modest means across
the street be forced  to move
reported by the crew a Chinese ship


 The Hall

The heat to play and celebrate the Spring
for spice a poster art I work the miss
look Malaysia Airlines plane the search
flotilla that the signals had and voice
recorders (two) the second Saturday
The Chinese signals were reported by
Xinhua a photo series from the sun-
ny regions east when people said they were
underwater have to find new homes


The talent and tenacity of wine

Investigating three reports by ships
Underwater sensors had to play
the signals had a photo series from
the hall attached to aircraft data and
to nearly every region of the search
flotilla that authorities of wine
produced to raize the building and construction
when people said they were of modest means
and now he leads an industry that is
the crew aboard the Chinese signals were
a testament a poster artist look
we’re much more on the world stage than we
than twice what many residents I work
a high school math the signals had the miss.


Poems were constructed from numerous articles in Seattle Times 06 April 2014 Print.

Note on composition and process:

These poems were composed by looking for unintentional instances of blank verse (unrhyming iambic pentameter) occuring in the prose of today’s Seattle Times. It was a real slog of pattern recognition. These are a few stabs at poems that I’ll have to come back to in my free time next month, since I have tons of unused lines in my notebook. I’ll be editing these notes a bit tomorrow to add more clarification, but I wanted to share the results before day’s end.


Oulipost #5: Tautograms


Times time tossed thirty-one transfer that there Taliban to to they that threats tight television to TURMOIL to times that to trades this technical to technology traditional they that that to them t t t training to that THERE threats through then timber-shingled turn tree to to tied tight Times that there they thought there times that to there there this that TECHNOLOGY through Tuesday that triggered time to to three textile to three three to this train Transit train that two that to Timothy to to to taking to trying to to trademark TODAY times to to tollfree to to TRAVELER textile to times times to times to tablet Thanksgiving terms times two to their there that to time that they there turned that to they two that they their to two throughout to that time to those them to their there to to to this to that to to time tribute to to talking to teenagers three taken technology to t-shirt that to that there two-bedroom to to things traveled to two-week trip to there temple to tries to to to that That trigger training to truck to this their two Texas Times this that that Thursday Twitter to there those to that technology to their thought this tech to to to they took that to think to target top tech to touched Thursday to to time technical to to to that their them their their their those there that to to to this to took this tsunami to  that that that to to think to to this to  to this treated  that those Theodis told to twice twice times Texas three that to take temporary to time than two to told to they told top Texas Times television to Thursday that to television they that they talent to to to traditional to that to tonight to to to that that top there to that that to to to them this to time to time to turn time to this time to to that that to that to Tina to to take to TV time too traditional to two this to those these to that to ties to top this tenant tossing trash tenant told to Tampa Tribune Thursday told teenage trash trash told Tribune that thought trick told Tribune that there to they to TV Thursday Tina they told to to that two-semester that takes them to training to them them that Twitter trades There technology to their to teach This told that two three that to to things to tenure to them to teach that true to technical to teach to that to to to there times to take to these that they to that that to tell them that they through to that to That then-superintendent to that twice three to to to theatre time this teen terre-torn turned tech told that to tourists that to those that they towering that to there think that to they told to this to those then to talk they their to think their there these to these than time that to that those tavern there then that to together to try to t to there that top two to tearfully twenty to that taped that to tearfully talking training through to that to this to that to themselves to times to to that theater to they their that too


I Is In I

Its in iPad is intuitive include inefficient It includes iPad if Iran it Iranians immediately Investors in its initial in it is implications in investigating if insider-trading information is it in into is its in it in interview in it in is in Internet in it its it into is if its In into iPad is I intuitive include industrial is I in I is in is instance I installed install-Internet installing I is important ID I in Internet in inform in issue I is it it I if in I is its it introduce I its I Internet it I it is Internet it is in I is increasing I is it indeed is in itself is it isn’t it itself is idle Inc interest indexes interm indexes industrial Industrials indexes in Idaho if it in its In it is Its initially if in is in institution in it IS it I is in iPad I impaired it iPhone I into it is it iPad it iPad includes its insert It is if iPads I iPad it iPad itself independent industry imagine in Internet ISPs I Internet it improve it increases is in it in I in isolate its invasion its it-Intelligence including in is in including it is in insurance in information interviewed information is its It is in its I is I is I in it is inefficient incompetent I is incomprehensible ignoring ignition is ignition-switch is in into is in issue ignorant in it is I iconoclastic I ignored is industries into in It is I into it intrusion its is is investigating into include is Italian is it in ignore is issued in its I is in initiate investigation is into it inside it it is it isn’t If it insists investigations it is INDEPENDENT I in insurgent In it instantly is included in install it in insurgents industrial-scale if into it Independent is investigating irregularities in it is in is in including in itself is in interview it is it is in international in insist introduced in individual in Italian in influential is important issue is its issues include issues including insider in Iraq instantly is invasion insurgency in Iraq in it identified in I in International its important isolation is imposed in its International ICC in its intentions in interview


Monuments, Morning

my mechanism moored my many more most manhunt Manhattan Madison man many macaroni-salad-and-salmon mudslide machinery mass mud mudslide many mobile MUDSLIDE Mayor Murray Month meeting Mayor Murray many making most may  male Madison man month meantime moratorium months MEASURE mudslide modest much movies media midnight monuments men muppets most muppets mad-is-on Mountlake Majestic Market Meridian Monuments Men Mr Monroe Monuments Men Mars Most Movie Moms Missing Middle make music make medium military members make maintenance mine middle made mistake my manageable move me my mention may mention my many master monuments may Madagascar many Monrovia members more manageable morning memory mother moments memento mayor months made money mere mudslide matter mudslide MEMORIES mudslide March made mudslide members march mudslide month management mother memories made medical mudslide material million may make minimal movement much mud missing magnitude measure massive march-mudslide-missing mother mudslide many mudslide mini-four-wheelers making months makes me map mother mudslide more maligning management meant many minutes make moment missing mom more making morning monuments massage matters most music makes multiple mediums mischievous moved miles makes memories missing moratorium



extend estimated expression else earlier early events each effort entering extraordinary early embrace else extensions either EXTENDED effort end EAST end England eagles ended encouraged excel expects EXCLUSIVE everything every extremely excited eight each editorial earned earn Earnhardt embedded effectively even ebb ended errors either everybody else extends even each events enough each easy error errors error eyes ears end early even embarrassing everything even eight ended eighth end early enough extended emotions effort either extensively experience enemy embraced everything even earlier expect ends excellence expectations even email expected effort eliminated expressed early excitement ever expected ELSEWHERE electrical engine extension


 Saturday Sale

shown steps special storage so some spring start somewhere seas seem steps simple simplifying self stuff selling smoothly support set start satisfies shredding state shredding shredathon start such sewing some saving strategy spend some storage stuff suggests specialized selling selling selling such stores Seattle stores support should some such storage start services Saturday soon stairs smelly-shin-snow-soaked-strip staircase says society says supervision safe so socialize so stimulate says service should say sure safe safe sleep stimulation such says steps studio so space supervise safe stay should space-sleeping store’s same supply settling story such statistics show survey showed state spring season swings some step spend shouldn’t say steps space supervising see Saturday service shops shop some shopping says smoothest she says showing says shop see specials seek shop stubs statements steps  someone says see suit so say sold seller says sure someone showers sinks small soap successfully such sprinkler systems several savings sewage systems septic system service start since system showers sinks system so storage sewers spread system slightly so suitable systems simple successes sumppump system should store soil Snohomish send systems simple Saturday special says something stages says system suites speakers so speaker’s sound says smartphones speed security systems seamless says settled standard says second spring spaces schemes say surround say shops Seattle says so stellar select suites SATURDAY SATURDAY spotted spied seven small Seattles say says sales simply summit sweeping side-story second style streetscape says sense she says shapes stunning says similar sale spoken should space studio selections says system says summit styles SATURDAY SATURDAY sounds square states spa spaces system select state says savvy secure spot says SATURDAY SATURDAY special shoppers state some search service shows single-family selling single seeking start such suitable situation step-searching simplifying shoppers search status signatures similar sites subscribe stunning skyline stations sung stunning stainless steel sites small section story storage small sea-swirl salmon Saturday smartphone study study smartphone see study season seats since souvenirs souvenir show sale silver show stamp stamps Seattle sale Seattle stolen storage stay subscription show swap see stainless shape stop self Seattle storage semi-stacking shotgun souvenirs sporting Sales Sale SALES shots socialized superior social shots shedding small size shots serious site standard sound standards Spring shots site SATURDAY

Poems were constructed from numerous articles in Seattle Times 05 April 2014 Print Replica.


Note on composition and process:

These poems are Tautograms made from today’s Seattle Times (see the Found Poetry Review prompt for the exercise here). A tautogram is a text in which each each word begins with the same letter. Since in the Lipogram experiment (Oulipost #2), I excluded the letters of the word “Times,” I thought it very Oulipean to bring the letters back (George Perec did this in his novel Les Revenentes, in which every word contains only the vowel ‘e,’ which of course his novel La disparition excludes). Using the print replica of today’s Seattle Times, I copied all the text (including most of the ads), pasted it into both Notepad then Word to strip the formatting, which I’m much more adept at thanks to yesterday’s format issues. I separated and assigned a letter from my seed word to the different sections of the paper Front Page/Nation/World (T), Business (I), Regional (M), Sports (E), and the Home insert (S). I then used the handy, Java-based Ouliposcripts (via fellow Ouliposter Douglas Luman) to pull out my tautographic lists.

In warmups last month, I did these by hand, so the wordpool was sort of disconnected (I made lists by parts of speech), and the process more MadLib-y. This time, I really liked how the Java script read the text so methodicallly. I really dug the kind of sonic map it made of the paper, so I kept the lists largely intact. I did make some excisions. For instance, I removed all the articles from “Times,” and I cut most of the stock market abbreviations in “I Is In I,” most of the repetitive sports player’s names from “Editor,” and many of the billion “Seattle” occurrences in “Saturday Sale.” I did do some more significant editing in “Monuments, Morning,” to make the poem something of an elegy, since today would have been my Mom’s 65th birthday, and I wanted something in all this to commemorate her. I thought that particular poem was fitting, given the references to the recent mudslides and the recurrence of the “Momuments Men” title from the movie listings, plus you know, M for Mom.

In all, I really love the language slippage in these, how many of the repeated words get potentially endless inflections of meaning, and how the shifted context shifts the parts of speech and function of most of the diction. they remind me a lot of both Dr. Seus’s Fox in Sox, as well as Gertrude Stein’s work in Tender Buttons and The Making of Americans, which are two of my all-time favorite books.

Oulipost #4: Fibonacci Sequence


low com
in tough
worship the services
science don’t



America’ ★★★½
guy, MOVIE
TIMES mudslide
In a out
out. Nathan
A at a



the Sunday pre-
printed section gave
C film of
of the have head



Sunday preprinted
arts prince           N*W
U committed
of smeared run
million in (no



tools to
for used move-
ment i-
dentify weeks Fork
lives though
theres runoff,



Coffee Coffee
cherries provide



Transit cuts
could u
w the worry
special commutes
left of home
election there’s:


Poems were constructed from numerous articles in Seattle Times 04 April 2014 Print Replica.

Note on composition and process:

These poems are experiments with Fibonacci sequencing
(see the Found Poetry Review prompt I was working from here). Basically, the idea was to create a poem by selecting words from the paper using a Fibonacci sequence (each new number in a set is derived from adding the previous two numbers) for selection, in which I would start with the first word and follow the pattern 1, 1, 2, 3, 5,8 ,etc. Thankfully, Doug Luman provided a handy tool once again. Though, today, I realized that I could access a text-searchable Pdf (Print Replica) of my paper with a digital subscription, so I forked over the .50 for the first month. Since I was working with a nonhuman counter (i.e. Javascript), I ran into some snags in text formatting, which slowed down what would have been a super productive day. Now that those roadblocks are on my radar, though, I can problem-solve ahead of time.

For the composition of these, I tried a few different options. The first 2 poems are attempts at composing poems from the entire front page, the third and forth are from all of page A-2 (the fourth formatted without articles), and the last three were attempts at trying individual articles instead of the entire page. I think when I pick this particular form back up again, I will focus on the individual articles, in part because I can avoid silly inter-medial format translation headaches.

Oulipost #3: Definitional Lit

Fort Hood

[fawrt, fohrt  hoo d]: noun

  1. a military reservation in central Texas, north of Austin


  1. A fortified place occupied by troops and usually surrounded by a soft, flexible covering for the head and neck, either separate or attached to a cloak, coat, or the like


  1.  A tract of public land set apart for a special purpose, of or pertaining to soldiers in, on or near the center of the uppermost deck of an inland or western river steamer lying in the plane of the meridian and to the left of a person facing the rising sun relative in scale or measurement to another name for Augustinian


  1. A distressed or mentally agitated person who has served in a military force, especially one who has fought in the war in the republic centering in the Tigris-Euphrates basin of Mesopotamia causes the death of a reflexive form of him in a state of violent anger or agitation in, on, or near that from which a commencement, as of action or reckoning, is made; a starting point or point of departure of the military forces of the nation, in, on, or near a state of the southwestern US


  1. A person engaged in military service moved from a shut or closed position so as to admit of passage a state, process, or instance of combustion the fourth day of the week, following Tuesday, on toward a place, point, activity, or object united by the same occupation of, for, or pertaining to the armed forces of a country or one of them a plurality of person, animal, plant, or group that is part of a society, party, community, taxon, or other body in, on, or near a military reservation in central Texas, north of Austin, to cause the death of, amounting to three in number, persons indefinitely or collectively plus injuring one more than fifteen earlier or sooner than to give in trust or charge the intentional taking of one’s life in, on, or near the identical with what is about to be or has just been mentioned: a unit consisting typically of two or more corps and a headquarters at which a body of troops is stationed in or at what place, part, or point one more than twelve persons indefinitely or collectively were killed by violence in a 9th year of the 3rd millennium onslaught


The Act of Drawing Straight Lines Unfastens the Harness

“People in general determined or sure to continue or remain as before highly pleased to perceive with the eyes a smaller number of paid advertisements or promotional announcements of still or moving images via radiowaves to receivers that project a view of the image on a picture tube importunately soliciting support for something done admirably or creditably by a person who seeks an office or honor or speaking of or treating slightingly the aggregate of features and traits that form the individual nature of a person who is on an opposing side in a game, contest, controversy, or the like,”  the highest judicial officer in rank or authority expressed or communicated in writing.

A Set of Instructions for Making New the Plant Itself a Sauce

the season of the year astronomically from the March equinox to the June solstice in the northern hemisphere causes to come into a particular position, state, or effect, round, edible seeds of a widely cultivated plant looking youthful and healthy and well filled out or rounded in form and of the color of growing foliage, between yellow and blue in the spectrum in their somewhat elongated, two-valved seed vessels

A Happening That Appears To Be Determined By Chance

an inanimate thing understood, previously mentioned, about to be mentioned, or present in the immediate context appears or seems to the eye as sluggish in nature, disposition, or function so as to be or remain supported by the external aspect or appearance, on the contrary so as not to remain suspended from the inner or internal part

Decline to Accept to Suffer the Deprivation


The persons who direct or assist the navigation of a ship went after, took hold of, and brought units made by safely moving with haste around all the bases ahead of time and went on or kept on uniting or joining so as to increase the number, quantity, size, or importance forward, onward, or along, as in any course or process.


The self-conscious or rational beings who regulate the course of or give support to the science of plotting of a vessel proceeded behind in place or position, got into their possession by voluntary action, and carried a group of things or persons regarded as an entity brought into existence by passing from one place or position to another in a safe manner in some particular relation to swiftness of motion in a circle, ring, or the like; so as to surround the whole number of the fundamental principles or ground work in advance of the system of those sequential relations that any event has to any other and proceeded forward, onward, or maintained fast combining or incorporating so as to form a single whole so as to make greater the sum, magnitude, spatial dimensions, or consequential air or manner ahead, toward a point in advance, or with a progressive motion, as in whatever or whichever route or systematic series of actions directed to some end.


Poems were constructed from numerous articles in Seattle Times 03 April 2014 Print.


Note on composition and process:

These poems are experiments with the Oulipean form, Definitional Lit (see the FPR prompt here), in which you take a found sentence or phrase and replace each substantial word with its dictionary definition. As you can see from my drastically increased output, this is a much faster procedure than either the Quote Cento or Lipogram, as the only mechanical process — looking up words in the dictionary — is actually part of the compositional process and not part of the material-gathering, or pre-writing stage. Since I suspected this would move more quickly, I decided ahead of time to try out sentences from different sections of the paper, with two from section A, just for the hell of it.

To give you a sense of how this process worked, let me elaborate on the first poem, “Fort Hood”. I started with a sentence I chose for its distinctive journalistic style:

“A soldier opened fire Wednesday on fellow service members at Fort Hood, killing three people and wounding 16 before committing suicide at the same Army post where 13 people were slain in a 2009 attack, authorities said ”

I was particularly looking for the matter-of-factness, 3rd-person distant tone, despite the harrowing and emotionally charged material it was describing. I wanted that tone, because it represents one step back in the abstracting process that the “Definitional Lit” form exacerbates. One pass with the dictionary (I used for this exercise) produced what would up as the 5th and final stanza, though I excised the “authorities said” phrase to tighten the ending. I decided not to keep going with the particular procedure since it was already getting to be a bit unwieldy, and I wasn’t looking to push this particular piece into Clark Coolidge territory (though there are times I really like to go there). I do go for two rounds on the last poem, “Decline to Accept to Suffer the Deprivation,” but it felt like it had room to stretch into more esoteric language. On the whole, though, I prefer shorter, punchier poems.

But I digress, I needed, or wanted, a title for my first poem, so naturally I looked to the headline and sub-headlines, which is what I did with all the poems. However, the main headline for this article was “4 die, 16 hurt in Fort Hood shooting” which I thought wind up redundant, since nearly all the same words were already in the sentence I had abstracted. Instead I played with the sub-headline: “Troubled Iraq Vet Kills Himself at Rampage at Texas Army Base.” I subjected it to the dictionary and came up with the fourth stanza, which was itself more a poem than a title, so I looked closer at the article and saw that the abbreviated title (used as a colophon) was simply Fort Hood. I liked that as a starting title, because part of the horror of the event described in the article was that it seemed to echo another grizzly shooting at the same base 5 years ago. I thought titling the poem Fort Hood would raise a question about what exactly the place may have to do with these acts of violence. So, I subjected that title to the definitional process. Immediately, I realized I had two options for tackling this. One is to take Fort Hood as a proper name, which I did for the first stanza. The other was to take the two words “fort” and “hood” as separate things, which I did for stanza 2. Then I thought maybe that first stanza could be abstracted further, so I took it through the dictionary grinder and wound up with stanza 3. At this point it occured to me that maybe the poem’s physical form could itself look like a dictionary entry, that Fort Hood could be both one and all these things, and that the form could signal to the reader the process it went through.

The rest of the poems still have room to expand, and maybe I will pull them out during down time next month.

Oulipost # 2: Lipogram (Newspaper Titles)

Two poems

Co. Fund

No food

fork for church

book buy off

your gov work

Of on or by now

down for you

A Local Flood

Local run off

Gulf  your

way back for

now no bank could

loan for a land

a hard fork road

no church

for all your work

Poems were constructed from numerous articles in Seattle Times 02 April 2014: A1. Print.


Note on composition and process:

Both poems are Lipograms of the front page of today’s Seattle Times (April 2. 2014). You can read the full prompt here. The first excludes all the letters from the full name of the paper ( Seattle Times — s,e,a,t,l,i,m). The second poem only excludes the letters t,i,m,e,s. I put the entire front page of today’s Times through a javascript app for lipograms created by fellow Ouliposter Doug Luman. I then weeded out the symbols, numbers, and excess redundancies. Working without e’s and i’s (and in the first a’s) is not an easy task.  I actually nearly finished textually compiling the A section of the paper, so maybe I’ll work out a short sequence from these when I have time.

Oulipost #1: A Quote Cento

Two Poems
It Wasn’t Like It Was Dangerous

Rear visibility technology

certainly has implications

ultimately for whaling

the problem is the ignition turn

switch is poorly installed

that it is very difficult in some of the finds to make


It was like Godzilla going through the woods

special enrollment periods

would have been avoided had the flight crew followed

the technological barriers to

doing this have really disappeared

The only thing you can do is go after what you hear

I had no idea that they could really do all of this

in just one day


The Anti-Christ

We don’t believe the claim has merit

It was just a very loud boom

Mozart in the Jungle

All the other guys were looking for women

The way we mixed up the words

Why is everything backwards?

Running it is going to be a cakewalk after that

attention to what he believed was the coming apocalypse.


Poems were constructed from numerous articles in Seattle Times 01 April 2014: A-B. Print.


Note on composition and process:

Both poems are Quote Centos, in which each line of the poem is a found quote, reproduced in part or whole (see the project prompt here).

Poem A is composed soley from quotes in section A of today’s Seattle Times. The lines follow the pages successively through the section, such that line 1 is from A-1, line 2 from A-2. The title was chosen from one of the leftover quotes. Poem B follows the same pattern as A.

There was a wealth of material to be had (36 pages of quoted lines), such that I can imagine a sequence to come just from this exercise alone.


Oulipost Warmup #3: beautiful outlaws

Time for Oulipost warmup #3 with the countdown clock to NaPoMo at just 6 days. This time, I was working with a much more time-consuming form: the belle absente, or beautiful outlaw. The basic idea is similar to the lipogram, a text that excludes a particular letter. In the belle absente, you start with the name of a person (or you could use a place, thing, or idea, I suppose). For each letter in the name, you designate a line in which you will employ every letter of the alphabet except the letter from the name.

For this warm-up, I took the first name, Inez, who happened to be the subject of the main front-page article of the Seattle Times edition I purchased last Monday explicitly for these warmups. My initial goal was to use only the text of the article I pulled the name from since it was long enough to potentially contain every letter of the alphabet. On that count, I wasn’t disappointed, except that the only “z” in the article was in the name Inez, which wouldn’t work, since her name can’t logically be used. That was an easy problem to correct, as I did a quick scan for z’s in the other front page articles. The real enemy here was time — this one poem took nearly 5 hours! — however, that’s what warming up is for. Now that I’ve composed one of these, there are some time sucks I can more easily avoid.

1. For starters, I’ll need my computer and the Seattle Times website for this one. I’m pretty adept at pattern recognition, but I’m comfortable admitting that my John Henry eye can’t beat my trusty machine. And why should it? Wading through random words can be an unnecessary headache. The more interesting skill in this form is word and phonic manipulation, not spotting words without “e” in a newspaper article.

2. Having played my fair share of Scrabble, I know which letters are going to be hardest to squeeze in to the poem (z,q,j,v,k,w and f), so I realized immediately that I should simply scan the text for words with these letters, as a way to quickly narrow my word pool and maximize my word choices. The find function on MS Word worked perfectly for this.

3. My fellow Ouliposter, Doug , came up with a couple of time-saving tools for this particular form (as well as others) — a text-sorting form that can do some word pool narrowing in seconds (bravo, Doug!). That saved me a lot of time. I simply plugged my 10$ word list and generated four new sub-lists: 1 without i, 1 without n, 1 without e, and 1 without z.

4. After a few fitful starts, I realized it would be best to start with the “no-e” line, as that was the most restrictive word pool. I then worked back to n, i, and finally z. Doug rescued my afternoon again with a handy Excel spreadsheet that tracks the use of letters for a given line. Again, this is something I could have done in my notebook, but it’s far easier to just cut-and-paste to get instant feedback.

I like how the final product turned out, with the lines somewhat relating in spirit to the article, which was about local city councils limiting citizen voices in order to allow for more city business. That’s at least in part because I primarily stuck to the text of a single article. I imagine if I had more time to spend with it, I could pull the diction a little tighter in that direction, but this works well as it is, especially given that I composed it in a single morning.


For Inez, rabble-rouser of Renton

(a beautiful outlaw)

Dozens of advocates except frequent verbal jewelry, only the talk may move a handful of angry

voters to realize hurtful policy examples require wayward waifs believe their fight may just look at how

six amazing nonprofits quit giving vicious Duck Dynasty watchdogs job information,

quashed those excluded viewpoints, and publicly joined staff in duplex government slack.



In all, the digital tools are a real time saver with such an acrobatic form as this. Now that I have a solid game plan down, this whole process can be drastically expedited come the end of April when this little devil arrives for real.



Oulipost Warmup #2: News as I-am(b)s

Finally getting back to posting my warm-ups for next month. This 2nd one was a bit more difficult than the tautagrams.

The object: to look for blank verse among the prose.

It’s been a while since I’ve worked with iambic meter (unstressed/stressed syllables), so it took a little adjustment and focus to get started. However, once I got in the habit (and made sure I was listening to music in mostly 4-4 time), the work flowed more smoothly. I found it best to catalog various sets of iambic feet (each foot is two syllables), so that I could graft together my 1-foot and 4-foot phrases and my 2-foot and 3-foot phrases instead of relying only on natural pentameter. I found it fun to create 3-line stanzas that roughly followed the pattern:





Since there were far fewer isolated iambic feet, this allowed certain sestina-like repetitions in the stanzas. I like how the collage-pattern also creates recurrences in themes and reference across the poem, but each time the theme gets altered — something I’ve always appreciated about Ted Berrigan‘s Sonnets. I’m sure I’ll have to give myself extra time for this form, when I tackle it next month, but If I block out an extra hour and read some iambic pentameter the night before I should be in good shape. Here’s my warm-up blank verse among the prose.


They Also Vowed to Block a Move


among a little noticed outcome of

a shootout in the state a month before

addiction had significantly few


career across the Gulf of Thailand to

a window or suspected fragment spot

that little pocket is all you can do


invent a car in how they get around

believing right this month the market has

in greater numbers than at any time


become to 35% of those

a fishing pole we also offer you

without a trace in water miles deep


careered to protest the proposal which

officials say our smallest most discreet

behemoth transit network saw again


become available exclusively

the average price the special offer ends

the public took advantage of an x


invent instead of how you’re hearing it

to set their clocks experience depends

as evidence the nation’s urban shift


among the other transit systems in

insurance plans Americans are bored

few prisoners have incomes high enough


become a blip expanding bus and train

I’ve known about today in history

the trembler struck at 9:18pm.