amongst books

amongst books

Monday, April 21, 2014

Oulipost # 21: Confabulation

MARTHA:            “No normal human being can read your handwriting. It’s as if you took a lot of very good       food and some dog excrement and blended it all up. There’s nothing else like it.”

PETER:                  “That’s a load of crap. That’s just the way it is. I don’t think there’s any need for that.”

MARTHA:            “Unless you get into this digital age and start typing things, you’ll be a complete failure.”

PETER                    I didn’t know what to do. That’s simple fact? When it’s not going perfect, you grind           the best you can. “At the end of a pencil,” ... “remains the possibility of man’s genius."

MARTHA:            It doesn’t have to be scary and dysphoric. The works are suffused with pessimism and           faith, violence and calm, mortality and transcendence, fear and joy.

PETER:                  Martha, love, we’re not getting wiser and kinder here.

MARTHA, staring impatiently at PETER:

You meet people every day who are never able to function.

PETER:                  So, what does this mean?

MARTHA:            There is nothing practical left to do. We are utterly alone and vulnerable in a bleak world.

PETER:                  I’m still confident I can fill all the tasks given to me, at least that’s what they’re telling me.

MARTHA:            We need to start thinking about what we’re going to use it for. We need to be intentional      about where we’re going.

PETER:                  We are on the cusp of the further perfection of evil.


Sibley, Robert. “Trapped beaver tale has a happy ending.” the Ottawa Citizen. 21 April 2014. A1.

POSTMEDIA NEWS. “Getting ready for The Singularity.” Ibid. A5.

Desaulniers, Darren. “Carleton Place crowned.” Ibid. C3.

Cohen, J. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. “Seabrook’s suspension a major blow to Blackhawks.” Ibid. C3.

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. “Blue Jays unable to complete sweep.” Ibid. C3.

Simpson, Peter. BIG BEAT. “A gift to last.” Ibid. D1

Spears. Tom. “‘Seismic platelets’: How a phoney paper got accepted by scientific journals.” Ibid. A1


Craft a conversation poem using “he said/she said” quotes that you find in newspaper articles.


How could I resist not turning this into the dialogue from a play? Not a poem this time. Peter is an aging professor, Martha, his young wife. She is getting tired of his old-fashioned ways, but is perfectly fine with his money. She is a bleak and sour woman who wants to drag her husband down with her. At the end of the scene, the we Peter is referring to could easily be him & his wife. 

I can’t help but think of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf by Edward Albee. Their bickering sessions were scary. Here the handwriting is the initial source of conflict between the couple, but in reality, there is much more to it. I admit that I added a few things, such as internal monologue in italics & slightly altered the quotations to fit with the dialogue. This was the most fun I’ve had so far. I could continue to do this for ages, but I’ll stop now.


Barbara said...

How did I not see this earlier, Amanda? (Maybe I was still asleep when you posted it?) I love what you've done with this and, of course, it does seem exactly like dialogue from a play.

Unknown said...

Oh, it's very interesting that you named your speakers! I've not seen anyone else do that yet.

Amanda Earl said...

thanks, Barbara & Sonja. i named the speakers because i wanted it to be like the dialogue in a play. Martha is the name of the character in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf.the male character is George in the play. also Martha just feels like an interesting name to me: Tom Waits has a song about her & so do the Beatles. Then Peter has Biblical allusions...