Oulipost Exit Interview

What happened during Oulipost that you didn’t expect? What are the best (or worst) moments for you?

I just moved to the Phoenix area, so I wasn’t familiar with the papers.  I learned that the largest paper is much less conservative than I expected it to be.  Perhaps it just seems less conservative by contrast with the news this month (Cliven Bundy’s standoff with the Feds, Donald Sterlings now-famous racism, etc.)   There were several fires and shootings during the month, and two stories of dog attacks.

I learned that my own poetic voice (or at least, my sense of what that voice is), can survive writing under a moderate restraint (like the sestina, cento, blank verse, or sonnet) but it gets lost under severe restraints.

I learned that I really am capable of spending hours a day on poetry, sitting down in the morning with no idea what I will write, and finishing the day with a completed poem.

So:  the worst moments for me were probably the Prisoner’s constraint, where I selected two words out of the tiny handful of choices, and did something visual with them, and homoconsonantism, where the only word I could come up with for the last few consonants was “sacahuil.”  (It’s a sort of giant tamale.)

What does your street look like?

The evening wind rattles
the palm leaves

along my street, cooler
and more refreshing
than a sauna.

Who is your spirit Oulipostian?

Margo Roby!  She not only has followers, but she has followers writing OuLiPoLian poetry!  She blogs at margoroby.com/.

She also wrote some great poems during Oulipost.

What are the top three poems you wrote during this project?

Oh shoot. I can’t narrow it down to three.  I have four favorites.  I will list some “also-rans” in another post.  My favorites are the ones where I sound the most like myself…though somewhat more surreal.

Cento: It’s all about Resistance

Sonnet: Holy Week Horoscope

Sestina: Migration

and finally:  the Patchwork Quilt poem, titled Coyote and the War Hag.

 

What questions do you have for your teaspoons? What questions do your teaspoons have for you?

What do you say to one another in the drawer, spooned together for the night?  What do you say to the knives?

My teaspoons want to know why I dipped honey from the jar tonight with the tines of a fork.

 

What will you do next?

I am working on putting together some chapbook and submitting individual poems.  I am continuing to write, and will probably continue to use some of the constraints I learned (or will make up my own).  Writing without found poetry constraints now seems intimidating rather than liberating.  I mean — where will I find words?

 

#Oulipost

Oulipost 30–Patchwork Quilt: Coyote and the War Hag

Coyote and the War Hag

Coyote started
as a young poet
from the forested uplands,
three dimensional,
howling the depth and breadth and height
of her love.

“I love thee though thy humor shocks.
Gadzooks! I love thy spine!

Thy pitchfork crowd a temptation,
thy villians sprawling naked,
thy innovative cacti,

thy fiery and thy snuffy,
thy rarin’ houlihan.”

Everywhere Coyote went,
fire and smoke smoldered,
tragic electrical temptations.

From the cradle of dust,
unbound,
Coyote made alliances.

Cacti and mesquite,
the birds, the stars,
the Great Bear plowing the sky,
wildfires and dry fields,
cowboy boots and rain.

From the desert oasis,
from spring-fed gardens,
from the liquid sweet spot,
from the blown-glass milky way,
Coyote took new hope.

One day Coyote
entered the adobe-arched home
of the war hag.

Quiet,
unassuming,
Coyote questioned
reality.

“It’s not your fault,”
the war hag said.

“But… the neglect of possibility?”
Coyote cried.
“The fragile power?
The adventure?
My values!
My talent!”

“Promises, promises, promises,”
the war hag said.

Coyote howled.

“Who would buy a fad a day?
A buzz, a dab, a bag, a ray?
Granite knows heat,”
the war hag intoned.

“Keeg!” Coyote cried.

Coyote sprang up,
backed away,
backed away,
backed away.

Coyote raced
through the night,
through the dust,
through the dark
chasing her doubts.

Coyote fell
and slept.

Coyote slept
in the pecan grove.
By the water,
she dreamed
in the dusk.

Coyote found there,
in the warm
marigold night,
praise.

Praise.

She found
clear-headed
perspective.
Quiescence.
Books. Art. Dreams.
The electric buzz
of objective existence.

It was kind of a gut punch.

Coyote howled her love,
teary-eyed.

“How do I love thee?
How can I love thee?
I live by thy love.
It’s all about
resistance.”

PROMPT

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

NOTES

I had a blast with this one.  I worked through my poems collecting interesting words and lines. I THINK I managed to include something from each, even if it was just a word.

Many, many thanks (and praise) to my fellow Ouliposters. It’s been a wonderful, wordy wild ride.  You can find their responses to this prompt here:  http://www.foundpoetryreview.com/blog/oulipost-30-patchwork-quilt/
or work your way through each blog from the listing on the Ouliposters page here:

http://www.foundpoetryreview.com/oulipost/ouliposters/

SOURCE:

All 29 of my Oulipost poems for the month!

#Oulipost #NaPoWriMo14 #winner

Oulipost 28–Melting Snowball: Forest-stewardship

forest-stewardship
three-dimensional
drought-stricken
sound-detecting
Environmental
multinational
coordination
disappeared
uncertainty
highlights
perfectly
possible
reasons
Nature
could
seek
help
yet
we,
a

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. Challenge yourself further by only using words in order as you encounter them in the text.

NOTES

I combined two articles in order to come up with a sequence of words that went through 18 letters. I had one word that long, but then there were gaps between it and the shorter words.

SOURCE

Associated Press, ‘Malaysia Missing Plane Air Search Called off’, The Arizona Republic, 28 April 2014 <http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/world/2014/04/28/malaysia-missing-plane-search-called-off/8403769/&gt; [accessed 29 April 2014]
Editorial Board, ‘Forests Need Thinning; Congress Can Help. But Will It?’, The Arizona Republic, 28 April 2014 <http://www.azcentral.com/story/opinion/editorial/2014/04/24/forest-thinning-jeff-flake-congress/8122939/&gt; [accessed 29 April 2014]

 

#Ouliopost #azcentral

Ouliopost 27 — Irrational Sonnet: 14-Digit Remix

14-Digit Remix

We’re young poets,
writing,
tho your humor shocks.

Women.

Humanitarian, underprivileged: women combat assault.
Poetry has been the means for millennia that so
many tell,
putting layers of meaning into poems:

home meals, window keeping, toddlers…

Adventure solidifies possibility.
Valley Poets Experiment with Form.
Every poem that we publish is a draft.
Tho your three spines attract somewhat dangerous electrical temptations,
I’ll be able to put it together.

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.

NOTES

I broke the rules — all month I have been sourcing my poems from either The Arizona Republic or Phoenix New Times.  But…well…there was an article on Oulipost today in the East Valley Tribune, on the three Phoenix poets who have been Ouliposting all month.  Kelly Nelson, Andrea Dickens, and me.  I did a remix of words and phrases from the article, including the headline, the three poems in the sidebar, and quotations from each of us about poetry.

The irrational sonnet specifies the stanza breaks for the sonnet.  I took it a step further, and used the number pi to tell me how many words I could use per line.  The first fourteen digits of pi are 3.1415926535897.  Clearly, this re-visioning of a sonnet leaves nothing of the original form but the fourteen lines.

The words in italics are from the three poems that were published with the article, and the bold is part of the article title.

SOURCE

Slade, Shelby, ‘Valley Poets Experiment with Form to Celebrate National Poetry Month’, East Valley Tribune, 27 April 2014, Sunday edition, p. A6,A8
I worked from the print copy, but this is a link to the e-edition: http://www.eastvalleytribune.com/eedition/page_ebe9ddde-049a-5587-be94-2d05b5d98884.html#page_a06
#Oulipost #Sonnet #pi #EastValleyTribune #EVTNow

 

 

Oulipost 26–Belle Absente: Monarchs

Monarchs
for Chip Taylor, founder and director of Monarch Watch

Autumn: butterflies migrate, journey south. The forested uplands a quiet blizzard from
            Texas, Arizona, every key state where milkweed grows. 
Jouneyed wings cover acres. Wind blows and wings rustle quietly. Every butterfly a
           zoology experiment.
Tagged, tracked, numbered.  Threatened by change, drought, heat, freeze, they feed, fly,
           journey complex pathways, frequent valleys,
Subject to climate extremes, they shiver in cold, die in wet.  Oh, come back to Arizona quickly,
           reigning butterflies.

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

I kept it short, for obvious reasons, and just used Chip’s first name.  No C in the first line, but every other letter of the alphabet is there.  No H in second. I started with a line from the story, modified it to fit, and kept going.  I stuck a few words that I liked on lines where they would fit, and worked sentences around them.  Note: Q words are especially hard to find, so I mined a couple of other articles just to get quickly and quiet. (I may have modified one or the other from adjective to adverb, or vice versa.)  Each line is so long it has to be wrapped, much longer lines than I usually write.

SOURCE

Bickley, Dan, ‘NBA Playoffs an Education for Players, Fans, Referees’, 26 April 2014, The Arizona Republic edition <http://www.azcentral.com/story/sports/nba/2014/04/26/nba-playoffs-education-players-fans-referees/8227877/&gt; [accessed 27 April 2014]
Career Builder, ‘How to Conduct a Video Interview’, The Arizona Republic, 26 April 2014 <http://www.azcentral.com/story/money/business/career/2014/04/26/conduct-video-interview/8224819/&gt; [accessed 27 April 2014]
Dungan, Ron, ‘Milkweed Could Boost Monarch Numbers’, The Arizona Republic, 26 April 2014, Online edition <http://www.azcentral.com/story/travel/2014/04/25/milkweed-boost-monarch-numbers/8183711/&gt; [accessed 27 April 2014]
 
#Oulipost  #BelleAbsente #BeautifulOutlaw #AZCentral #butterflies #milkweed #monarchwatch

Oulipost 25 — Larding: The Witness Stand

The Witness Stand (with media voiceover)

     The pitchfork crowd has temporarily dispersed.

I think I’m right.
The rest was half-remembered blur.
The engine ignited.
I would do it again.
That’s what.
The smoldering fire started at about midnight.
I noticed smoke coming from under the hood.

     A person sitting on the edge of an overpass caused police to close Loop 101 in the East Valley on Friday morning.

Is it because he’s overvaluing the stuff you can’t measure?
He contacted the police after several attempts to call his son back failed.
It doesn’t change the cold, hard truth.
He jerked away, trying to stop the burning.
     These are heavy questions that come with a heavy cost.
I think I’m right.
They like intangibles.
They were glad she wasn’t alone in her final moments.
They want guys that play the game the right way.
I am wondering.
Both are combustible, emotional and unpredictable.
I would do it again in a heartbeat.

They were giddy with their collaborative efforts.
I’m wondering.
They put the crown on the head of a racist rancher
and welfare king and only backed away after witnessing
the ugly naked truth
of this particular emperor’s new clothes.

     Fire investigators are still determining the cause of the fire.

This is just the craziest thing.
Make sure you have a very clear sense of what you want to do.
Granted, there is limit to how many of these guys a team can tolerate.
That has kind of given me some peace of mind.
I don’t think I’m wrong.
I think the biggest tip is just to prepare for the unexpected.
And we’re not doing it.

     No public executions are on the schedule.

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.

NOTES

You can view the making of this poem on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zU3-Iv5OyhI.

SOURCE

Multiple articles in the 4/25/2014 online edition of The Arizona Republic.

 

 

Oulipost 24 — Homosyntaxism: Sprawl

Sprawl

“A physical place is a living entity in itself,
   and it is constantly changing.”

A digital experiment was a sprawling commitment in space,
and it was quickly thinking.

A major undertaking has a redefined Arizona in media,
and we are locally struggling.

A reatroactive mentality is a corrosive environment under power,
and you are timely envisioning.

The hostile people talk a big concept without art,
but we are positively rebranding.

No innovative boxes are affected subjects on outskirts,
yet they change personally, falling.

 

SOURCE

Montgomery, Karin, ‘Big Brain Awards 2014: Meet the Finalists and Our First Urban Legend Winners: Daniel Mills, Urban Vision’, Phoenix New Times: Valley Fever Section, 24 April 2014, Online edition <http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/2014-04-17/news/big-brain-awards-2014/&gt; [accessed 25 April 2014]

This article was a special feature written by several people; I used only the section on Daniel Mills, beginning on the fourth page of the link.

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.

NOTES

I started with a sentence.  I actually thought about changing one word at a time until it morphed into an entirely different sentence (and I bet some of my fellow Ouliposters did), but I decided against it.  I used words from the same article, except that I changed a few adjectives into adverbs.   A little plug here, I think Sprawlr Mag looks like an interesting project, and I look forward to seeing an issue.  Go for it, Daniel Mills.

#Oulipost #PhoenixNewTimes #SprawlrMag