amongst books

amongst books

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Oulipost #17 Haikuisation

home renovation --
how good the game is played:
about the fury


The haiku is a Japanese poetic form whose most obvious feature is the division of its 17 syllables into lines of 5, 7 and 5 syllables. Haikuisation has sometimes been used by Oulipians to indicate the reduction of verses of normal length to lines of haiku-like brevity. Select three sentences from a single newspaper article and “haiku” them.


Author unknown. “How to pay for a home renovation.”  the Ottawa Sun. 17 April 2014. 19.
Author unknown. “Facts About The Fury.” Ibid. 2.
Hofley, Chris. “Ottawa Fury Game Day Program — THE NASL.” Ibid. 2


I broke the rules by using three separate articles because a) i forgot & b) i like the idea of merging unlike subjects. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Oulipost # 16: Chimera

Balls are patient, artistic, and large.
It’s a great way, declining from the panthers
that spoke us the Tuesday.

But it says also a great panther,
anxiously asked by the high innovative lottery
and odds who don’t withhold their sabres
— or don’t impress each other’s chances.

Many places have seemingly said
what is long had by numbers
who identify their trades back:

oilers targetted from the innovative June
to the community philadelphias
comment the outreach worst. Fact.

There are at least fulllength times
to swipe Handel oilers,
“scientifically refused” or otherwise.

First, you can comment that there arguments
no philadelphia behind the tasty time.

The oiler with this NHL
cites that someone’s always ready
to say the only pick of five
to be studied right in your season,
holding it look first than it actually given:

maybe it falls the new flame
who should have been a four once
and is musical to do about the islanders
as though it issues the sabres,

or perhaps the great pick
with a major 2015 of trade
about easy trade whose very season
announce a rare defenceman.


Main text: Gormley, Shannon. “Politics for Millennials.” The Ottawa Citizen. 16 April 2014. A11.

Nouns: Matheson, Jim. With Files From The Canadian Presspostmedia News. “Panthers pounce on top pick. Ibid. C6.

Verbs: Fekete, Jason. “CRA offers no comment on breach.” Ibid. A4.

Adjectives: Robb, Peter. “From Bach to tango and back.” Ibid. B7


The chimera of Homeric legend – lion’s head, goat’s body, treacherous serpent’s tail – has a less forbidding Oulipian counterpart. It is engendered as follows. Having chosen a newspaper article or other text for treatment, remove its nouns, verbs and adjectives. Replace the nouns with those taken in order from a different work, the verbs with those from a second work, the adjectives with those from a third.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Oulipost #15: Prisoner's Constraint

A Pronouncement on the Benefits of Science
By Racine

Science can
overcome concern
measure a new crown
raise minimum wins
mean increases
accuse America
uncover versions
marry rare commons
with air in music


McGreggor, Glen. “Robocall laws may be late for election.” The Ottawa Citizen. 15 April 2014. A1.
POSTMEDIA NEWS. “Hunger feeds aggression in married couples, study shows.” Ibid. A1.
Reevely, David. “The road premier to travel has its bumps, but …” Ibid A1
Brydenthe  Joan. CANADIAN PRESS. “Senate calls for Elections Act changes. Ibid A2
Brewster, Murray. THE CANADIAN PRESS. “Pending Cyclone deal would allow aging Sea Kings to finally be retired.”  Ibid. A2.
Mazey, Steven. “75 Butterflies.” Ibid C5

PROMPT: Prisoner’s Constraint

Imagine a prisoner whose supply of paper is restricted. To put it to fullest use, he will maximize his space by avoiding any letter extending above or below the line (b, d,f,g,h,j,k,l,p,q,t and y) and use only a,c,e,m,n,o,r,s,u,v,w,x and z. Compose a poem using only words that can be made from these letters AND which you source from your newspaper text.


For me the joy in these lipogramatic constraints is their ability to yield fanciful & odd notions. Here I let the poem take the form of a pronouncement on the benefits of science. Of course the claims are preposterous. This reminds me of the ludicrous claims on the benefits of various health products. The title is not from the newspaper, but the author's name comes from words in the paper. I was quite pleased to find Racine making pronouncements on science in the 21st Century.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Oulipost #`14: Column Inches

Oulipost # 14: Column Inches

Experimental Violins
2 soloists,
charming, quiet, paranoia, love, bias
close playing field, $1275 + until
million or video

Experimental Violins
2 slsts, charming, quiet prn, lv, bs,
close PL FLD, $1275 + until 
million or video

Experimental Farm, 2 bdrm, charming, quiet, prkg frpl,
hrdwd, close ROH/Civic, $1275 + until 
May or June 1st.

Experimental Violins
2 slsts, charming, quiet prn, lv, bs,
close PL FLD, $1275 + until million or video


Borenstein, Seth. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. “New violins beat Strads in blind test.” The Ottawa Citizen. 14 April 2014. C7


Refer to the advertising section or the classifieds in your source newspaper. Create a poem by replacing all of the nouns in your chosen ad segment or classified listing with nouns from one article in the same newspaper. You may use multiple ads/classifieds, presented in the order of your choosing.


I could have written a longer poem, but I loved the simple madness of this one & didn’t want to take it further. I thought it might be fun to apply the abbreviated technique of the source ad to the poem.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Oulipost #13: Epithalamium

Oulipost #13: Epithalamium
Tom Walmsley, Amanda Earl, Charles Earl

a heart wore a nod
a where can now
and health we need
on entry the at has a nose,
the land swore
more necessary than more control
the same we heard
and teamed to demand
more than sewers

Roche, Kelly. “BOOMING COMMUNITY Cumberland second only to downtown when it comes to new construction in the capital.” The Ottawa Sun E-Dition.  13 April 2014. A5.
Yuen. Jenny. QMI Agency. ‘We need your co-operation’ Ibid.
Proussalidi, Daniel. National Bureau. “Jim Flaherty: Towering tributes.” Ibid.A6.
QMI News. “Anti-gay speaker gets across border.” Ibid. A10
QMI News. “Montreal, Quebec City mayors seek special status within province.” Ibid. A10.
An Oulipian epithalamium, or marriage song, is one composed exclusively with the letters of the names of bride and groom (bride and bride, groom and groom, etc). Visit the engagement or wedding announcements section of your newspaper and select a couple. Write a poem using only words that can be made with the letters in their name. You may choose to use first names only if you prefer anonymity or full names if you’re desperate for more letters.

The Sunday Ottawa Sun e-dition doesn’t have a Classifieds section, nor a Weddings/Engagement section, so I chose to use my own name plus the names of the loves of my life. Quelle Scandale. I think I’m channeling e.e.cummings in this poem. Thanks to Doug Luman once more for his fabulous Oulipian tools.
The poem I wish I'd written for his occasion is this one .

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Oulipost # 12: the Sonnet

Oulipost #12: Sonnet

The man who wore green ties, the heartbleed bug
A sudden death, pervasive online world
Until we meet again, Heartbleed is down
The bond of trust was ordered to shut down
She called to check on it before it died
Believed to be affected, full of holes
It’s a massive hole; we still don’t know
Grocery lists, bad news and poetry
Become more common place--it’s hard to hide
Wrongdoing in the handling of complaints
The one who knows to stop from breaking down
Whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood

Great adventure this, in even lower depths
We still don’t know.


Hurley, Meghan. “Flaherty sought Leitch’s help on day he died.” The Ottawa Citizen.  12 April 2014. A1.
Fekete, Jason. “State funeral planned for Flaherty.”  Ibid. A2.
Smith, Patrick. “Advocates for disabled laud finance minister’s support.” Ibid. A2.
Panetta, Alexander, THE CANADIAN PRESS. “Key world officials mourn Canada’s loss. Ibid. A2.
Press, Jordan. “Federal sites shut down over bug fear.” Ibid.  A3.
Pilieci, Vito. “Heartbleed is a wake-up call for our pervasive online world. “Ibid. A3.
May, Kathryn. “Integrity office gets its knuckles rapped.” Ibid.  A3.
Maher, Stephen. POSTMEDIA NEWS. “Flaherty knew that politicians risk more than most of us.” Ibid.  A4.
Brian Lee Crowley. “Flaherty listened, and acted on what he heard. Ibid. B7.


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. 


I wimped out on rhyme scheme. I would have needed days to rhyme in iambic pentameter from the newspaper. I think I got the turn ok though & the meter is mostly iambic pentameter…methinks. The fuckuppery of the last line is deliberate.  

I decided to combine the death of former Federal finance minister, Jim Flaherty with the coverage of the recent computer virus, Heartbleed. The idea of the pervasiveness of our online presence & the lack of discretion, coupled with our vulnerability & the vulnerability of the heart, of life itself, seemed to go together. I hope that it wasn’t disrespectful in any way. Credit goes to Teddy Roosevelt for the lines in italics.
I had to pass up some golden lines because I couldn’t fit them into the meter, in the form of an Irish blessing:

“May the road rise up to meet you, may the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, may the rain fall upon your fields, and until we meet again, may God hold you in the hollow of his hands.”

Go to the Found Poetry Review to read sonnets by my fellow Ouliposters.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Oulipost #11: Univocalism

Oulipost # 11: Univocalism

And Canada walks a sad attack
And Canada lacks a plan
And Canada has a small, hard match
And Canada has art and a bag
And Canada was a scandal
And Canada was all scars


Press, Jordan, Spears, Tom and Maher, Stephen. “Brazeau arrested again, pleads not guilty.” The Ottawa Citizen. 11 April 2014. A1

Kennedy, Mark, Hurley, Meghan, and Mcgregor, Glen. “An Irish lion is gone.” Ibid. A1.


A univocalist text is one written with a single vowel. It is consequently a lipogram in all the other vowels. If he had been univocally minded, Hamlet might have exclaimed, “Be? Never be? Perplexed quest: seek the secret!” All words must be sourced from your newspaper.


I’m making this on the train, using a laptop I’ve never used before. The things I’ll do for poetry. That’s all the elaboration you’re getting today. I need a coffee.


What fascinates me about univocalism are the univocal translations, such as those published in the Oulipo Compendium. A poet named Tom King translates William Carlos Williams’ “This Is Just To Say” as follows:

This is Jist Ti Siy

I hivi iitin
thi plims
thit wiri in
thi icibix
ind which
yii wiri pribibli
fir briikfist
Firgivi mi
thiy wiri dliliciis
si swiit
in si cild

& then does it again with the letter o.

Of course Canada has our own univocalist: Christian Bök whose “Eunoia” (Coach House Books, 2004) is a univocalic masterpiece where every chapter has only one vowel.