Oulipost 12 — Sonnet: Holy Week Horoscope



Gilbertson, Dawn, ‘Saintly Serenity’, The Arizona Republic, 12 April 2014, section Exploring Arizona, p. D1

Holiday Mathis/Creators Syndicate, ‘Horoscope’, Arizona Republic, 12 April 2014, section Exploring Arizona, p. D6
Sewell, Robin, ‘Things to Do: Dorrance Planetarium’, The Arizona Republic, 12 April 2014, section Exploring Arizona, p. D2
‘Your Arizona Photos’, The Arizona Republic, 12 April 2014, section Exploring Arizona, p. D2



Write a sonnet sourced from lines found in newspaper articles. You may choose your own sonnet type ( Examples here) and should feel free to be creative with the rules. One known Oulipo variation is “sonnets of variable length,” in which one must compose a sonnet in which the lines are either as short as possible or as long as possible.


So — what I really wanted to do here was to find fourteen lines of iambic pentameter, and arrange them in a gripping narrative in the form of an Italian sonnet, rhyme scheme, volta, and all.  But this is what I got.  The left side is sourced mostly from a story on a peaceful Arizona monastery (dressed up a bit with snips from other stories), and the right side is entirely composed of fragments from horoscopes for the day.

Is it a sonnet?  Well, it has 14 lines.  Or two sets of 14 lines, depending on how you read it.  And I think it has a volta, a turn, at the end of the twelfth line, with the last two lines offering some sort of resolution or summing up to the prior lines.  That’s my sonnet, and I’m sticking to it.

I grew up an Episcopalian, with Holy Week traditions.  My mother’s policy was, if you didn’t attend either Maundy Thursday or Good Friday services, you didn’t have any business show up on Easter.  If you aren’t up on terminology, Holy Week is the week before Easter, which actually begins tomorrow, and “stations” refers to Stations of the Cross, physical stations placed on a route around a church interior or church grounds.  The stations are used during Holy Week to remember each stage in the passion (suffering) of Jesus. New “steel stations” adorn the grounds of the monastery described in today’s story.

I won’t attempt to define horoscope for you.  I guess I figure if you don’t know, you are better off.


#Oulipost #NaPoWriMo2014


6 thoughts on “Oulipost 12 — Sonnet: Holy Week Horoscope

  1. I like this one very much. Glad you called it a sonnet. There’s some tension since the poem itself seems to want out of that straitjacket. Also seeing this as the ripped curtains of Good Friday. Perhaps the poet herself is the bell ringer? Tugging at the line (or lines), at our heartstrings? 6, 7, 8, 9 have a distinct flavor of consumerism, perhaps holiday-holy day consumerism. Maybe we’re looking at a contemporary form of Iscariot’s 30 pcs of silver? “Redeem” seems to me an inspired word, “redeem rewards” a great turn of phrase, immediately recalling the biblical rhetoric of trade (the wages of sin… redemption, etc.) from the simplest every day “unfelt” things/influences/demands such as those represented by credit cards, rewards plus cards, gift cheques, and ATMs.

    Fave line: adobe-arched entrance don’t waste time

  2. I’d like to see you go further to resolve left and right sides, allow for schizoid split, but also for bridging. Thus L & R should read vertically independently of each other, and horizontally across the line. The first line works, but second line bell should be pluralized, third line horoscope needs the infinitive “to take control”… etc. Do you see what I mean? And the whole should come out making sense, with the sacred and the pagan supporting each other, don’t you think? The turn in the last lines toward the failure of the whole enterprise “it’s not your fault” can be a sort of self-reflective look at the attempt to resolve sacred and superstitious, perhaps. When instructions are given for an exercise, you don’t need to be fastidious in your application of the rules. That’s poetic license. You’re allowed to take the lines you found and use them as the bones, but play with them; you’re allowed to take the rules as guidelines. Does it matter whether it’s a sonnet? In my opinion, no. It matters whether the poem works. If it’s also a sonnet, well cheeri-0! But it’s not pure form that gets the bingo! reaction.

  3. Pingback: Oulipost Exit Interview | A Tree by the Stream

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