Oulipost: Day 6

In spite of being the most accessible prompt so far, this one kind of did me in. I was starting to feel a little sick when I started attempting it and was full blown done with the world after 20 minutes to trying. Not too happy with this poem but I’m pushing through.

Prompt: Compose a poem using unintentional lines of iambic pentameter found in your newspaper.

Who we are/Who we were

Chicago is an engine powered by

Collaboration, creativity.

A love struck kind and geopolitics;

They all perform the tree pose as they take

A yoga class taught by a 12 year old.

There is a childlike innocence or whim

That help provide a solid framework for

The lens of who we were and who we are.

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Oulipost: Day 5

I used all obituaries this time around. They were pretty short, so I drew from five.

Prompt: Compose a Tautogram poem whose words — or at least the principal ones — all begin with the same letter. The words must be sourced from your newspaper.

“Oak Forrest officer who died after crash ‘loved helping people” Grimm, Andy. Chicago Tribune 5 April 2014.

“Longtime Chicago gay rights activist dies” Manchir, Michelle. Chicago Tribune 5 April 2014.

“Clifford L. Jordan Jr., 1940-2014” Giangrasse Kates, Joan. Chicago Tribune 5 April 2014.

“Ray Still, legendary CSO oboist and teacher remembered” von Rhein, John. Chicago Tribune 5 April 2014.

“Jack Train, 1922-2014” Karmin, Blair. Chicago Tribune 5 April 2014.


A Previous Place

Photographic people, postwar.

Popular public park.

Peers are paired perfectly, playing

With perfect parts and products.


Principal Police Patrolman

is privately pulsing.

Preferred problems.

Preferred to pursue the peace.

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Oulipost: Day 4

Not much wiggle room with this prompt at first glance, but I did play with line breaks again. My poems so far seem to have developed a little anti-establishment theme? I’m not libertarian, but maybe my subconscious is…

Prompt: In a Fibonacci sequence, each term is the sum of the two terms immediately preceding it; typically with 1 as the first term: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5,8, 13, 21, 34, 55 and so on.

Select an article from your newspaper and create a poem using the words that correspond with the numbers in the sequence. Your poem will take the form of first word, first word, second word, third word, fifth word, eighth word, thirteenth word, etc. You can continue until you’ve run out of words in your article or until you’re happy with the poem’s conclusion.

“Don’t Water Down Teacher Standards.” Stone, Nancy. Chicago Tribune 4 April 2014.



Let’s begin with indisputable:

Counts improve if we the state

Wondering, flunking, raising law,


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Oulipost: Day 3

Prompt: Select a single sentence from a newspaper article. Replace each meaningful word in the text [verb, noun, adjective, adverb] by its dictionary definition. Repeat this treatment on the resulting sentence, and so on, until you’ve had enough! Note that after only two such treatments with a relatively compact dictionary, even a two-word sentence can produce an accumulation of 57 words.

“Hobby Lobby Advertisement” Chicago Tribune 3 April 2014.


Original Sentence:

“Let your creativity blossom.”


First Alteration

Allow or permit your ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc. to flourish; develop.


Second/Final Alteration (with a couple line breaks thrown in.)

Allow Liberty

Give permission to (or allow liberty) your power or capacity to do or act physically, mentally, legally, morally, financially, etc.to rise above or go beyond handed-down-by-tradition thought, acceptance or notion a particular condition, character, or mode in which something appears:

Order or system in doing anything,

a conception of another’s behavior,

et cetera.

To grow luxuriantly, or thrive in growth, as a plant. To bring into being or activity; generate; evolve.

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Oulipost: Day 2

Prompt: Create a poem using words from your source newspaper that are comprised of letters NOT found in the title of the newspaper.

“Eleuthera Island in the Bahamas: sun, surf and solitude.” Carpenter, Mackenzie. The Chicago Tribune 2 April 2014.

“April Fools: The best Internet jokes of 2014.” Kleinberg, Scott. The Chicago Tribune 2 April 2014.

I think it’s safe to say that this challenge got very real, very quickly. With C-H-I-C-A-G-O T-R-I-B-U-N-E unavailable to me, the only vowel left was Y.

By the time I got home from work and read this prompt, a perfect storm of minor life limitations had already, coincidentally, been brewing up around me all day. My heater broke and my landlord is out of town, I’m off of all social media for Lent while participating in a writing challenge fortified by Facebook, and I happened to choose this week to try removing added sugars from my diet-surprisingly impactful on my body and mood. My experience with the first Oulipost prompt yesterday had been breezy and stimulating, and I guess I was looking forward to more of the same today. So I spent five minutes pouting on the Trib website in three sweaters in front of my space heater wanting ice cream, but then I felt a wash of gratitude. Not only because limitations are liberating for a person like me (often paralyzed into inaction by too many options), but also because I was faced with the thought that being stuck in a puzzle with no comfortable or easy way out is something that many people in this world feel every day on a much larger scale than writing a poem. I guess that’s always on my mind during Chicago winters. How fortunate to live minimally by choice. What a luxury to write a poem. Even if it is an itty bitty one like this!



My M&ms

My sky

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Oulipost: Day 1


First day, here we go!

Prompt: Write a Centro poem using only quotes referenced in newspaper articles from your source newspaper.

Kota, Greg. “Frankie Knuckles, house music ‘godfather,’ dead at 59.” Chicago Tribune 1 April 2014

Dardick, Hal and Ruthhart, Bill. “Emanuel’s pension fix: Shrink benefits, raise taxes.” Chicago Tribune 1 April 2014 

Our Own Thing


Public servants, average working people.

Scores and scores, dozens and dozens of people.

There are a record number of people trying,

365 days a year.



Pink slips, taxes,

Quite brave, if not heroic,

365 days a year.


Until we created our own thing:

I’d shut down all the lights and set up a record.

To us it was an art form.

It doesn’t cost anything,

A frenzy on the dance floor.

You’re going to have a partner-

Making changes collectively-

God has a place on the dance floor.

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Oulipost Introduction

I’m starting this blog for several reasons, but first and foremost because of a National Poetry Month challenge I signed up for called Oulipost 2014.

Some definitions I found to wrap my head around the challenge:


Found Poetry, “The literary version of a collage. Poets select a source text or texts — anything from traditional texts like books, magazines and newspapers to more nontraditional sources like product packaging, junk mail or court transcripts — then excerpt words and phrases from the text(s) to create a new piece.

Oulipo: A loose gathering of (mainly) French-speaking writers and mathematicians which seeks to create works using constrained writing techniques. It was founded in 1960 by Raymond Queneau and François Le Lionnais.

Constraints are used as a means of triggering ideas and inspiration, most notably Perec’s “story-making machine”, which he used in the construction of Life A User’s Manual. As well as established techniques, such as lipograms (Perec’s novel A Void) and palindromes, the group devises new techniques, often based on mathematical problems, such as the knight’s tour of the chess-board and permutations.


So okay, creating found poetry employing some of these Oulipo constraints and using a local newspaper for all source material. One piece every day for the month of April. The first assignment is an introductory interview, and mine is below:


1. What excites you about Oulipost? I am an aspiring documentary theatre artist and poet, and so the idea of found poetry gets me reeal excited to begin with. I also love word games and puzzles, so the constraints are very attractive to me in that way. I’m at a juncture in my life where the most exciting thing I can think of is giving myself opportunities to fail, and to fail in big broad strokes, and there seems to be a relatively good chance of some failure here.

2. What, if anything, scares you about Oulipost? Putting “incomplete” or unpolished work out into the universe.

3. Have you written experimental or found poetry before? Nope!

4. What newspaper will serve as your source text? The Chicago Tribune

5. Who is your Spirit Oulipian? After five minutes of research, I henceforth declare it to be Stanley Chapman. He helped found the National Theatre, which produces some beautiful documentary theatre work, and I’ve never met a Stanley I didn’t like. 

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