Category Archives: oulipost

Oulipost #20: Lescurean Permutation [Plain]

Through forest-clenched winters,
along roiling streets and
urban rivers
crimes and
complicated clones
may help

I imagined the
fine stags
tenderly strung
shells and
tiny teeth
charming family
loved years
12,000 ones
more modern pyramids
the great people
in Egypt.

Sources (in order of appearance):
McNamara, Mary. “TV relationships finally get more complex”. Chicago Tribune. 20 April 2014: Arts + Entertainment, 6.

Steves, Rick. “Europe’s art framed in the quiet moments”. Chicago Tribune. 20 April 2014: Travel, 2.

The prompt:
Select a newspaper article or passage from a newspaper article as your source text. Switch the first noun with the second noun, the third noun with the fourth noun, and so on until you’ve reached the end of your text.

Oulipost #18: Homoconsonantism

Scent sits clean on hymen

and detain the entry
offer it to clean  home
on amber eyes,
and the needs meant
(loathe a month)
anemia of scenic true bliss.
mere algae around
sooth scant use.
tease in region,
and the theory.
(soft honey)
wrap aura
tuck anew
guide the teeth clean
so they —
carotid-clad —
ebbs foamy planetoid
noise aurora
we amoebas —
boatlike aethers —
enthuse atomic lily afield.
they heave aside
eyeing wild beneath coil.
arise upon us ably


Monte Morin.”Scientists clone human embryonic stem cells from 2 adults”. Chicago Tribune. 18 April 2014: 15.

The prompt:
Choose a sentence or short passage from your newspaper to complete a homoconsonantism. In this form, the sequence of consonants in a source text is kept, while all its vowels are replaced. For example:
ORIGINAL: To be or not to be: that is the question.
CONSONANTS ONLY: T b r n t t b t t s t h q s t n
FINAL PRODUCT: At burnt tibia: it heats the aqueous tone.

The passage I chose: “In addition, the entire effort to clone human embryos and then dismantle them in the name of science troubles some people on moral grounds.
The scientists in Oregon and the authors of the new report acknowledged that the clones they created could develop into babies if implanted in surrogate wombs. But like others in the stem cell field, they have said reproductive cloning would be unethical and irresponsible.”

Oulipost #16: Chimera

Don’t share to your military.
Don’t wave aircraft when leaning in tank.
Don’t decipher
(so-called and unique).
And never read
or nod
your airplane
in Warthog.

Those appearances read
(looked on)
a ferocity of
“10 language-driven A-10 Thunderbolts”
that an Air Force
in red-eyed equivalent
recently was nodding
to rural grunts.

Flying year,
an old-fashioned enemy,
said the range
(a career),
a Southern Gothic Cold War
and Iraq online.
Afghanistan to be —
the Pentagon of Communist fleet cuts
should know —
almost as replete
as the defense spending itself.

But the aircraft teach
(at once)
subtlest and dynamic
since billions are over
as few years
of the Defense Department
in November 2012
and as
Air Force
the diminutive aircraft.

Joint Strike Fighter’s
“close air support”
second-floor divestitures
dreaming over their friends
for military decision of
Air Force Chief of
Staff Gen. Mark Welsh
by Senate
Armed Services
as well as
on choices or
by A-10s.  

an aircraft of
340,000 history in aviation,
considers to have studied the airplane to ground,
putting out to study
exactly what its pilots build
and look
a friend to such foes.

Used on
1,700 eyes
from A-10s,
and lives,
the Iraq Afghanistan —
in emotional way —
tries a plane of
10 young air support platforms
that would
be installed.

Among them:
have A-10 from Sen.
Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H.,
looking illegally,
other news conferences
to happen
and leave small Sen.
John McCain, R-Arizs
to the A-10

Are hearings,
or happening
them to grow your A-10s,
eating your reviews or
eating your A-10
are also
asked upon.

On aircraft, the planet,
a local Army Gen.
Martin Dempsey shrugged
the chairman
had asked

But its Joint Chiefs of Staff
was quickly considered
with Air Force
officials of both
defense cuts
and choice
A-10 fleet.

“These is late budget pictures,”
said one
choice on the choices.
“How can such Air
Force Secretary Deborah Lee
James use committees
spur the Welsh?”

“They explained to be read
17-year Air Forces?”
“a full-spectrum fight”
“These missions should say
back to air support.”

The airplane also
focused up
an air support
and things for A-10
means: to ask the way
on platforms who compete
the lovely comments
and said Air
to like air support of aircraft
on their F-35

The prompt:
“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.

Base article:
Simon Denye. “Chinese officials warned of ‘10 forbidden behaviors’”. Chicago Tribune. 16 April 2014: 15.

Noun substitution article:
Christian Davenport. ” Plan to scrap Warthog fleet hits resistance: Supporters fight to save ‘great old friend’ as Pentagon looks to make spending cuts”. Chicago Tribune . 16 April 2014: 16.

Verb substitution article:
Christopher Borrelli. ” The future is (almost) now: Why sci-fi has rooted itself in technology and concerns of the short term, rather than the far-flung”.  Chicago Tribune . 16 April 2014: Arts + Entertainment, 4.

Adjective substitution article:
Chris Jones.  “Cicadas buzz within this Southern Gothic story”. Chicago Tribune. 16 April 2014: Arts + Entertainment, 5.

Author’s note: Man, English grammar is confusing.

Oulipost #17: Haikuisation

Little Beads of Grit

tiny plastic particles
a gentle scrubbing
in rivers and lakes
slip through sewage system filters
particles so small
fish, other wildlife
absorb toxic chemicals
mistake them for food

 Source: Michelle Manchir and Taylor Goldenstein. “State targets tiny beads: Skin cleanser ingredient poses ecological risks”. Chicago Tribune. 17 April 2014: 1.


Mount Thorium

boat slips on river
gauze soaked radioactive
sandy leftovers

Source: Michael Hawthorne. “Just off Mag Mile sits city’s toxic past: Radioactive waste from early 1900s dogs Streeterville”. Chicago Tribune. 17 April 2014: 1.


The prompt:
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 note: I handled this prompt two different ways. For the first, I reduced each of  the three sentences I selected into a separate haiku. For the second, I reduced each of the three selected sentences into a line in one haiku. I think the second method was more successful overall, but had a hard time doing this with my first article without eliminating the serious environmental issues it concerned.

In general I’ve tended towards lighter articles as my sources this month, as these techniques feel too playful to apply to more serious articles.  Just my bias, I’m sure, as I’ve seen my fellow Ouliposters use these techniques to create profound poems from heavy subjects. But in my hands, the results just seem to be disrespectfully absurd.

Oulipost #15: Prisoner’s Constraint

Remains in Camera

A man in our arm.

We are in a mosaic,
a new us.
We service in scenes —
a user in me, over wise.
We wave our incense  in error.
Our Zen is over,
In memories, a room.
Cousins on Mass in sermon service.
I was no communion.
Our wine: We were communion.
We were None.

We’re in movies,
an occasion,
we’re a reason in common,
worse, so mean.

No I in a room.
Come as I came.
Sworn in swear,
on our mission as a success.
Never so in common.

I was on mirrors eerie.
Consciousness science versus neuroscience.
Mere viewers
examine sense over course,
arm in never.



Galanes, Philip. “Power Players: Nancy Pelosi and Julia Louis-Dreyfus discuss politics, celebrity and women at the top”. Chicago Tribune, digitalPLUS magazine. 15 April 2014: 3.

Huppke, Rex W. “New phrase that’s bound to pay in Age of Selfies”. Chicago Tribune. 15 April 2014: 2

Zeitchik, Steven. “Thinking outside the brain: ‘Transcendence’ has major processing power behind storyline about artificial intelligence”.  Chicago Tribune. 15 April 2014: Arts + Entertainment, 1.

The prompt:
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.

Oulipost #14: Column Inches


3 Workplace Future Presence April 26,
Selling all culture On pedestal Fairfax, Iowa
Walls @
Original Coke PowerPoints/Screens NO FORM (Large),
WWII Armed Companies Spider/Teleconferencing
Devices (Large), Yard Luxury, Metaphor/Office Building
Robot Facial Cues, Classic/Vintage Enthusiast/Gender/
User Designs, Hanging Person Brainstorming Walls,
Sensors, Human Sewn Skype Cues, Experience Related,
Facility Related Cues, Interaction & Image Design,
Pets, Workers, Experiences, Fidelity, Van Briggle,
Roseville, Strangeness Modern, Painted Counterpart,
Vintage Distances and Hallways, Meetings, Talent
Vacuum, Barnster Software, Attempt, & Indian
Colleague Telecomm.



Huppke, Rex W. “I, robot employee: New ‘telepresence robots’ could help us telecommute more efficiently, and it could happen sooner than you think”. Chicago Tribune. 14 April 2014: Business, 2.

Merchandise classifieds. Chicago Tribune. 14 April 2014: Business, 8.

The prompt:
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.

Oulipost #13: Epithalamium


in pain, a test.
take it.

training in a granite rink,
cancer eaten.

start engineering a piece —
entire areas
in green springs.

an age


get near —

it’s air in a star.
see it.



Reynolds, Jessica. “In sickness and in health: Grim diagnosis delayed wedding but strengthened a bond”. Chicago Tribune. 13 April 2014: Life + Style, 6.

Weigel, Jenniffer. “A dress to remember:WWII vet’s bridal gown indelibly linked to her wartime experience”. Chicago Tribune. 13 April 2014: Life + Style, 7.

The prompt:
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.

Oulipost #12: Sonnett

Headfirst into a world of car chases,
and multiple twists and unforeseen
man-eating praying mantises —
And, voila, boredom disappears!
The once-comfortable industry,
umbrella beneath which people can strive,
starry climb to the top of his field,
has turned into a fast slide.
Stories about amorous vampires
or dystopian death matches
may begrudge the fact that their lives,
their allotted time on the planet,
butts heads with shorter attention spans,
to make their outsides match.



Heppermann, Christine. “Books for the young adult”. Chicago Tribune. 12 April 2014: 14.

Memmott, Carol. “Publish and perish: In his follow-up to ‘The Expats,’ author Chris Pavone offers a compelling bit of intrigue set in cutthroat book industry”. Chicago Tribune. 12 April 2014: 12.

The prompt:
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.

Oulipost #11: Univocalism

Birds with Fish

right in with his birds
wild birds
in which birding is his sight
singing in birds
this is his intrinsic birding,
in night

“I think,
bird thinks,
I with bird —

light —
fish —
light —
still in mind,


in big vivid bits
pink light
light in light

fish still

30 blind fish

fish wind light
in his film

fish minds light

in his

in his



Brotman, Barbara. “Bird-watching with an expert:  Author-illustrator turns trail guide for small band of enthusiasts”. Chicago Tribune. 11 April 2014: 4.

Hayes, John. “The truth behind trout eyesight”. Chicago Tribune digitalPLUS magazine. 11 April 2014: 14.

Lodge, Guy.Brothers wrestle with death, angst”. Chicago Tribune. 11 April 2014: Arts + Entertainment, 4.

The prompt:
A univocalic 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 used must be sourced from your newspaper.

Oulipost #10: Snowball


























Harris, Melissa. “A George Lucas museum in Chicago? Emanuel keen on project as San Francisco plan stalls”. Chicago Tribune. 10 April 2014: 1.

The prompt:
This procedure requires the first word of a text to have only one letter, the second two, the third three, and so on as far as resourcefulness and inspiration allow. The first word of a snowball is normally a vowel: in English, a I or O.

From your newspaper, select a starting vowel and then continue adding words of increasing length from the same source article or passage. Challenge yourself further by only using words in order as you encounter them in the text.