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 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,
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.

Coyote questioned

“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,


She found
Books. Art. Dreams.
The electric buzz
of objective existence.

It was kind of a gut punch.

Coyote howled her love,

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


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


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:


All 29 of my Oulipost poems for the month!

#Oulipost #NaPoWriMo14 #winner