Monthly Archives: April 2014

Oulipost #30: PATCHWORK QUILT

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April 30, 2014

The Prompt: Conclude the project by writing a poem that incorporates words and lines from all of your past 29 poems.



 

Harvesting the Seconds, Pen On Page

 

We’re trying to find touchpoints by day,

to be reminded of how beautiful—

the rustic setting, old Kentucky home.

 

We want to show that we are a strong community.

Time will tell, my tribe. It’s upon us.

 

Who am I? A person or thing

equal or similar to another,

one able to cope with another

before returning to a nearby aphrodisiac.

We descend like locusts

on our elbows, on the other:

empty, then refilled.

 

Complex conditions, an ugliness/fury. Nonsense.

Poems lie. The chicanery, bogus scheme. Never

let them get in the way. We cling

to superstitions. We do it all. Small, then—

You, us, I. We’re common.

We’re more. Play my part?

 

Many can, as flinders in a burn, an abattoir,

slowly undone. Ale got onto the altar,

familiar with the Maker’s Mark. Still,

we harvest one second after another—

 

–as life goes on, the biggest issue? Time.

This is not rocket science.

That definitely holds true.

 

Sources: My previous 29 Ouliposts! This National Poetry Month was an absolute blast. Thanks to the wonderful folks at The National Poetry review, the Evansville Courier & Press, and my fellow Ouliposters for providing laughter, inspiration, encouragement and camaraderie throughout the month. Until next year!

 

Read how other Ouliposters tackled this prompt here.

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Justice League Senryus

I have a critical essay due tomorrow for my next semester in grad school, but I /lost/ the book somewhere between buying it (and getting the author/my current mentor to sign it) last fall, so I reordered it from Amazon around the 20th.

Of course, they listed it as “Shipped” on the 22nd, but they must have sent it to an alternate dimension or something, because even after paying a bit extra for expediency, it still wasn’t here yesterday…so I drove two hours to Louisville this morning, knowing that either Carmichael’s (support independent booksellers!) or the college bookstore would have it.

On the way home, my mind was wandering over potential topics for next semester’s 30-page extended critical essay, and one of the conversations I had with the aforementioned mentor, who loves Haikus/Senryus. Next thing I knew, I was counting syllables in my head and comparing comic book characters to the Greek pantheon.

Weirdness ensued.



 

Superman

Apollo in flight,

yellow sun-cloaked paragon,

bathe in accolades.

 

Batman

Hades as dark knight–

Gotham, his underworld cave.

Fear, the greatest tool.

 

Green Lantern

Beware his power,

patrolling space with his ring:

modern Hephaestus.

 

Wonder Woman

Immortal huntress,

making prey of lies Men tell.

Golden Artemis.

 

The Flash

Run, scarlet Hermes;

ride the lightning, messenger

of swift justice. Run.

 

Aquaman

Ruler of the seas–

all which dwells within obeys

you, blonde Poseidon.

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Oulipost #29: CANADA DRY

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 April 29, 2014

The Prompt: The name of this procedure is taken from the soft drink marketed as “the champagne of ginger ales.” The drink may have bubbles, but it isn’t champagne. In the words of Paul Fournel, who coined the term, a Canada Dry text “has the taste and color of a restriction but does not follow a restriction.” (A musical example is Andrew Bird’s “Fake Palindromes” – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7pqYTTW4hKk&feature=kp)

Be creative, and write a poem sourced from your newspaper that sounds like it’s been Oulipo-ed, but hasn’t.



 

 

Firefighters are Still at the Scene

 

The War hopscotched south,

as might a storm. Swallowed people up,

people whole, people

by the millions. It really did, if you want to know

the truth. Hollowed out communities. Enough.

 

The goal: stay alive until there’s no one left.

Who is appropriate?

Do we even have to ask?

Black. Brown. Poor people of whatever hue.

The Man said facts are an inconvenience.

Never let them get in the way.

 

He never did.

 

Sources:

Butler, Hunter. “STUDENT VOICES: Scenes from your favorite book.”

Morris, Rick. “COMMUNITY COMMENT: Letter-writer blindly follows liberal agenda.”

Pitts, Jr., Leonard. “PITTS: One nation with liberty and justice for some.”

Sainz, Adrian. “UPDATE: Tornadoes tear through South, killing 11.”

 

Notes: This prompt was somewhat confusing; still, confusion is as good a place to begin as any, especially on a morning when the coffee has yet to kick in and I’m facing four hours on the interstate to and from Louisville to hunt down a book which Amazon seems to have mistakenly shipped to an alternate dimension instead of Evansville (which, admittedly, can feel like some bizarro-version of reality at times…). I went with a faux-quote cento vibe, rearranging portions of quotes phrases and applying erasure.

I considered trying a bit of antonymy, especially with some choice phrases from a letter which asserted “the left are vile and insidious people with radical agendas and damned be anyone who opposes them,” but I figure the author’s words and overall tone are clear–they are what they are. My “radical agenda” today is to create poetry. If this individual considers that “vile and insidious,” so be it. I won’t be losing any sleep, but I am under absolutely no obligation to be silent for his convenience. The open road awaits.

 

Read how other Ouliposters tackled this prompt here.

 

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Oulipost #28: MELTING SNOWBALL

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April 28, 2014

The Prompt: A text in which each word has one letter less than the preceding one, and the last word only one letter. From your newspaper, select a starting word, and then continue adding words of decreasing length from the same source article or passage.



 

 

Just One More Brick in the Wall

 

Understanding

romanticized

reactionary

propaganda,

educators

disagree.

Society

should

think:

True.

Who

am

I?

 

Source: Stone, Victor. “LETTER: Former police officer’s stance on guns surprising.” courierpress.com. Evansville Courier & Press. Web. 28 April 2014.



 

With Interest

 

Scholarships?

Necessities

beforehand.

Education

payments,

college

degree,

crazy

debt.

Owe,

do

I.

 

Source: Ramsey, Dave. “Dave says: Retirement funding comes before kids’ college.” courierpress.com. Evansville Courier & Press. Web. 28 April 2014.

 

Read how other Ouliposters tackled this prompt here.

 

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Oulipost #27: IRRATIONAL SONNET

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April 27, 2014

The Prompt: Create a 14-line sonnet sourced from lines from your newspaper that is divided according to the first five digits of the irrational number pi – that is, into stanzas of 3, 1, 4, 1 and 5 lines. As with the preceding sonnet assignment (see April 14) you may interpret “sonnet” as formally or as loosely as you wish.

 



 

Remembering Her in Springtime

 

Remember when–? I know the story well.

We built our house in 1985.

I don’t remember what I wore, she’d say–

 

the blossoms, flowers, greenery of spring?

 

Those pointed buds, fresh faces to the sun,

and every year, they never let me down.

As life goes on, the biggest issue? Time.

While few would disagree with this ideal,

 

enjoy the beautiful fall foliage.

 

Our city has a history of gems—

the carousel located by the zoo,

the violets picked from family’s yard,

the yard a pool of purple every year,

our riverboat. The one that got away.

 

Sources:

Barnett, C. Dwight. “HOME FIX: Modern homes require GFCI protection at the electric panel or at individual outlets.” courierpress.com. Evansville Courier & Press. Web. 27 April 2014.

Roth, Sally. “Violets for Remembrance.” courierpress.com. Evansville Courier & Press. Web. 27 April 2014.

Sprepski, Ellen. “LETTER: Don’t let Peoria steal our ship!” courierpress.com. Evansville Courier & Press. Web. 27 April 2014.

Staff. “COMMUNITY COMMENT: Founders set up nation to not have true democratic elections.” courierpress.com. Evansville Courier & Press. Web. 27 April 2014.

Zwahlen, Darlene. “LETTER: Ungetheim would be breath of fresh air.” courierpress.com. Evansville Courier & Press. Web. 27 April 2014.



Notes: I like sticking close to iambic pentameter in sonnets, but rhyme? Not so much. Some erasure was applied to sentences to pare them down towards iambic pentameter.

Read how other Ouliposters tackled this prompt here.

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Oulipost #26: BEAUTIFUL OUTLAW (BELLE ABSENTE)

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April 26, 2014

The Prompt: The outlaw in question is the name of the person (or subject) to whom the poem is addressed. Each line of the poem includes all the letters of the alphabet except for the letter appearing in the dedicated name at the position corresponding to that of the line: when writing a poem to Eva, the first line will contain all letters except E, the second all letters except V, and the third all letters except A.

Choose someone mentioned in your newspaper to whom to address your poem. Compose a beautiful outlaw poem following the procedure outlined above and using words sourced from your newspaper text.

Notes: The name I chose was “Ma Hale,” and the resulting seven sections, before line breaks, were as follows:

-M: We exchange ukulele songs. I prize each derived, liquidy sound, but just to be friendly.

-A: Sorry, I’m jesting. Come here, my love — so unique, so complex. We descend like locusts on our elbows, on the other: empty, then refilled. Sleepy, spent, we doze.

-H: Sometimes we drive around as excited immigrants in our own city for a lazy afternoon, only to park just by a quiet river.

-A: Let our love mystify or puzzle the experts, the quick keepers of bills since we, too, fill our bowls with good, home-cooked food. With joy.

-L: Amazing, how this enchanting exchange conjures such bad questions. Back away, movers and shakers.

-E: Just back away from six hours of dogging inquiry and valid lazy complaints.



 

Afternoon Reverie

 

We exchange ukulele songs.

I prize each derived, liquidy sound,

but just to be friendly.

 

Sorry, I’m jesting. Come here,

my love — so unique,

so complex.

 

We descend like locusts

on our elbows, on the other:

empty, then refilled.

Sleepy, spent,

we doze.

 

Sometimes we drive around

as excited immigrants in our own city

for a lazy afternoon,

only to park just by a quiet river.

 

Let our love mystify or puzzle

the experts, the quick keepers of bills

since we, too, fill our bowls with good,

home-cooked food. With joy.

 

Amazing, how this enchanting

exchange conjures such bad questions.

Back away, movers and shakers.

 

Just back away from six hours of dogging

inquiry and valid lazy complaints.

 

Sources:

Aaron, Joe. “Sleepy town, but nothing small about Ma Hale’s reputation.” courierpress.com. Evansville Courier & Press. Web. 26 April 2014.

Baldor, Lolita. “Active duty military suicides drop; Reserves go up.” courierpress.com. Evansville Courier & Press. Web. 26 April 2014.

Doyle, Abbey. “Rockin River City Ride two days of fun, family, fitness, organizers.” courierpress.com. Evansville Courier & Press. Web. 26 April 2014.

Eifling, Sam. “Steel guitar makes Hawaii think twice on ukulele.” courierpress.com. Evansville Courier & Press. Web. 26 April 2014.

Human, Dan. “Lending for small businesses picks up in Indiana.” courierpress.com. Evansville Courier & Press. Web. 26 April 2014.

Pearson, Jake. “Lawyer: Congressman Grimm faces federal charges.” courierpress.com. Evansville Courier & Press. Web. 26 April 2014.

Staff Report. “11 Courier & Press staffers earn state awards.” courierpress.com. Evansville Courier & Press. Web. 26 April 2014.



Read how other Ouliposters tackled this prompt here.

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Oulipost #25: LARDING

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April 25, 2014

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

 



 

Old, New, It’s All Rock and Roll to Me

 

Not everything old is new again.

IZ ZAT SO?

Of course

this degree of rarity is reflected

in the marketplace.

 

This is “not rocket science,”

which really is just the careful application

of Newton’s laws of motion

with some relativistic tweaks;

 

this is one of the most difficult topics

science has ever tried to understand. The future

of humankind may be at stake;

we have to get it right.

 

By the same token, to label people as “deniers”

because they are skeptical about some of the science

is unconscionable.

How about some of the other “New” groups?

 

I always loved Australian singer

Judith Durham, the original lead vocalist of the Seekers.

 

Most of the “New” groups have no connection

to previous artists

with the same name,

sans the “New.”

 

Examples: Remove the “New”

and you’ll have trouble finding groups

named Birth; Colony Six; Edition;

Kids on the Block; Order; and Vaudeville Band.

 

 

Sources:

Kearns, Michael. “LETTER: Name-calling weakens legitimate debate.” courierpress.com. Evansville Courier & Press. Web. 25 April 2014.

Osborne, Jerry. “MR. MUSIC: Collectible Records and Recorded Music.” courierpress.com. Evansville Courier & Press. Web. 25 April 2014.



Read how other Ouliposters tackled this prompt here.

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