Oulipost 28–Melting Snowball: Forest-stewardship



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.


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.


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,
tho your humor shocks.


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.

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.


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.


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

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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



Oulipost 24 — Homosyntaxism: 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.



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.


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.


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


Oulipost 22–Inventory: Enchilada Trees

For this poem, I am going to have to send you over to Prezi to view it — apparently I can’t embed directly on a WordPress-hosted blog.

Here’s the link: Enchilada Trees

Pick the fruit to build your own sentences.


Fernau, Karen, ‘Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with Enchiladas, the New Taco’, The Arizona Republic, 22 April 2014, Online edition <http://www.azcentral.com/story/life/food/2014/04/22/enchilada-gadzooks-recipe/8011553/&gt; [accessed 23 April 2014]


Inventory is a method of analysis and classification that consists of isolating and listing the vocabulary of a pre-existing work according to parts of speech. Choose a newspaper article or passage from a newspaper article and “inventory” the nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, conjunctions, articles, etc. Bonus points for creative presentation of your final lists.


I admit to being boggled by this one.  I went for creative presentation.  If I were a programmer, I might be able to do something where you could pick words from a drop down list to build your own sentences.  Or a flip book.  Something with interchangeable word for the parts of speech.  But that sort of idea would take me a week instead of a day.  So I went with a Prezi.

#Oulipost #NaPoWriMo #AZCentral #Prezi #inventory #enchiladas

Oulipost 22 — Antonymy: Tragic Unbound Papers

Tragic Unbound Papers

Indeed, all villains are not naked
Saracens or unmasked redeemers.

There were a single
keeg’s rejects
not of an
unnumbered worst
still photo,

unfounded under tragic
unbound papers and text-based
biographies. No, we won’t lose
the Penguin or Lex Luthor,

but we won’t lose momentary
Roaring-Twenties FBI agents
or clear-headed old boys, either.


The original paragraph was “But not all heroes are caped crusaders and masked avengers. Here are one geek’s picks of the 10 best movies based on comic books and graphic novels. Yes, you’ll find Batman and Superman, but you’ll find Prohibition-era gangsters and confused teenage girls, too.”

Barbara VanDenburgh, ‘Top 10 Comic Book Movies’, The Arizona Republic, 22 April 2014, Online edition <http://www.azcentral.com/story/entertainment/movies/2014/04/21/top-comic-book-movies/7980025/&gt; [accessed 23 April 2014]


In Oulipian usage, antonymy means the replacement of a designated element by its opposite.

You can find more fun word play in the comments on the Antonymy prompt post. 


It’s relatively easy to replace black with white, odd with even, red with green. But what is the opposite of “of?”  The opposite of “caped?” This one was a lot of fun, and has, dare I say, potential.  And I learned a new word.  “Keeg” is the antonym of “geek,” as in, “My dad, you know, he’s such a keeg he can’t even answer a phone call on his smart phone.”