Rules & Constraints (or how does this project work?)

According to the Oulipo, there is a big difference between rules (the things you have to do) versus constraints (the arbitrary things you choose to do). The group believed that language is always constrained by something be it time, material, experience, grammar, alphabet, stylistic conventions etc. In this sense, calling one’s writing “free” is a misnomer at best, and at worst a bad case of naïveté. Since all writing is constrained, the group felt it best to recognize the existence of constraints and play with them to varying degrees, instead of simply ascribing them as intractable, universal forms. In that spirit, I’ve gone to the trouble of differentiating the hard and fast rules of the game, from the daily constraints I’ll be configuring throughout the month.

The Rules

The basic rules for the project are as follows:

1. All poems should be composed using text found in the current day’s newspaper (The Seattle Times)

2. All poems should be posted to the blog (and link provided on the Found Poetry Review’s website) the same day as the scheduled constraint (see below) and tagged #oulipost for ease of indexing

3. All poems are titled/numbered according to the schedule of constraints

4. The constraints are arbitrary (i.e. not rules), and should be treated as configurable to the poet’s process and vision.

Catalog of Constraints

The full text of these prompts will be posted to the Found Poetry Review’s website at 12:01a.m. on the day scheduled. Most are variations of constraints Listed in The Oulipo Compendium (ed, Brotchee and Matthews 2005).

APRIL 1: QUOTE CENTO
APRIL 2: LIPOGRAM (NEWSPAPER TITLES)
APRIL 3: DEFINITIONAL LIT
APRIL 4: FIBONACCI (VARIATION)
APRIL 5: TAUTOGRAM
APRIL 6: BLANK VERSE AMIDST THE PROSE
APRIL 7: N + 7
APRIL 8: BEAUTIFUL INLAW (BEAU PRESENT)
APRIL 9: HEADLINES
APRIL 10: SNOWBALL
APRIL 11: UNIVOCALISM
APRIL 12: SONNET
APRIL 13: EPITHALAMIUM
APRIL 14: COLUMN INCHES
APRIL 15: PRISONER’S CONSTRAINT
APRIL 16: CHIMERA
APRIL 17: HAIKUISATION
APRIL 18: HOMOCONSONANTISM
APRIL 19: SESTINA
APRIL 20: LESCUREAN PERMUTATION [PLAIN]
APRIL 21: CONFABULATION
APRIL 22: ANTONYMY
APRIL 23: INVENTORY
APRIL 24: HOMOSYNTAXISM
APRIL 25: LARDING
APRIL 26: BEAUTIFUL OUTLAW (BELLE ABSENTE)
APRIL 27: IRRATIONAL SONNET
APRIL 28: MELTING SNOWBALL
APRIL 29: CANADA DRY
APRIL 30: PATCHWORK QUILT

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