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.


Oulipost #9: Headlines (Variation of Jean Queval’s “Cent Ons”)

(Dogs and cats and a moneymaking machine)

Spices are the mystery of life,
Saying thank you

Not another swig of that diet soda!
But why?

Secret Service stiffens drinking rules,
shakes up personnel:
Women see more benefits.

Gadgets for a good night’s sleep
Brain’s filter
lets eyes see
what isn’t there.

you take the leap
to speak.

A scientific solution ahead for conservative crowd?
Experts want paradigm shift on gauging risk

Not speaking of silliness …
No stars? Check. Still winning? Check.

(Procrastination wins the prize on ‘That’s Pathetic!’)

City Hall, back to you.



All headlines from the Chicago Tribune, 9 April 2014, by authors:
Judy Peres, John Kass, Vikki Ortiz, Carol D. Leonnig, Peter R. Orszag, Eric Zorn, Motoko Rich, Karsten Strauss, Kirsten Weir, Dana Stevens, Charles Wallace, David Haugh, Paul Sullivan, Meeri Kim, Peggy Wolff, Russ Parsons

The prompt:
Compose a poem whose body is sourced from article headlines in your newspaper.

Oulipost #8: Beautiful Inlaw (Beau Present)

A mere human

Hear a name:
a lean mean humane healer
Here, area men earn manual manure.
Menu: ham, real ale.

Learn, man!
Rule realm.



Byrne, Dennis. “Are women being denied equal pay? Or not?” Chicago Tribune. 8 April 2014: 15.

Channick, Robert. “New chief at WBEZ has plans for growth”. Chicago Tribune. 8 April 2014: 4.

Egan, Timothy. “Embracing the messiness of creativity”. Chicago Tribune, digitalPLUS magazine. 8 April 2014: 6.

Greenstein, Teddy. “On the 1st day…rain’s supreme: Forecast looks better for tournament days”. Chicago Tribune. 8 April 2014: Sports, 10.

Harford, Tim. “Nudge or Fudge? Behavioral economics has become one of the hottest ideas in public policy — but a backlash has begun”. Chicago Tribune, digitalPLUS magazine. 8 April 2014: 11.

Legal Notices. Chicago Tribune. 8 April 2014: Business, 9.

Seligson, Hannah. “Grief goes public: Digital natives in their 20s and 30s are using blogs, YouTube, and social media for communal mourning”. Chicago Tribune digitalPlus magazine. 8 April 2014: 3.

Smith, Mitch. “Taking a stand on concessions: Now a stadium staple, Wrigley was first in pro baseball line with permanent fan stops for food and drink”. Chicago Tribune. 8 April 2014: 7.

Wilson, Carl. “Was Dylan’s ’80s work second-rate? New tribute album argues the singer-songwriter’s material stands test of time”. Chicago Tribune. 8 April 2014: Arts + Entertainment, 3.

The prompt:
Select a name from one of your newspaper articles, famous or not. Compose a poem using only words that can be made from the letters in that person’s name. For example, if you selected “John Travolta,” you may only use words that can be made from the letters A, J, H, L, N, O, R, T and V.

The use of web-based tools is highly encouraged to help uncover different words that can be made from your letters of choice. One tool you might consider is the Scrabble Word Finder.

I chose the name of Chicago’s mayor, Rahm Emanuel, from today’s Chicago Tribune, then used the Scrabble Word Finder to generate a list of words from the letters in his name.  Then I searched through today’s issue of the Trib to find words that were on the SWF list to use in this poem.  If the mayor ever reads this poem, I hope he likes it, or at least as a man of culture and an aficionado of the arts (he was a professional ballet dancer), he will appreciate its artistic merits, and will not send me a dead fish.

Oulipost #7: N+7

But what if such a cautionary serration is exactly what some teeth need? What if encouraging stultification to take a shout at the collision tractor despite very long odors of crossing its fjord linesman does them more harp than goodwill? What if our own hyper-credentialed lifestyle expletives and idlers are blinding us to alternative patriarchies to the midnight? Including some that might be a lot more viable for a great many young peptides? What if we should be following the leafhoppers of coupes like Germany, where “tracking” isn’t a dirty workday but a common-sense weakness to prepare teeth for respected, well-paid workload?.

But what if such a cautionary sermon is exactly what some temperatures need? What if encouraging subscriptions to take a sign at the comfort trail despite very long oil of cup its fist listing does them more headache than good? What if our own hyper-credentialed likelihood explosions and immigrations are blinding us to American pathways to the min cleaning? Including some that might be a lunch more viable for a great many young period? What if we should be following the lead of courts like Germany, where “tracking” isn’t a dirty world but a common-series weekend to prepare temperatures for respected, widow-paid work?

But what if such a cautionary serviette is exactly what some telephones need? What if encouraging stunts to take a shower at the colon trademark despite very long offender of crouch its firebrand lingo doglegs them more harpoon than good? What if our own hyper-credentialed lifetime expletives and idylls are blinding us to alumnus patricians to the midriff clavichord? Including some that might be a lounge more viable for a great many young perch? What if we should be font the lead of couples like Germany, where “tracking” isn’t a dirty workhouse but a common-sentry wean to prepare telephones for respected, well-paid work?

Petrilli, Michael J.  “College isn’t for everyone. And that’s OK.” Chicago Tribune, digitalPLUS magazine. 7 April 2014: 8.

The passage:
“But what if such a cautionary sermon is exactly what some teenagers need? What if encouraging students to take a shot at the college track despite very long odds of crossing its finish line does them more harm than good? What if our own hyper-credentialed life experiences and ideologies are blinding us to alternative pathways to the middle class? Including some that might be a lot more viable for a great many young people? What if we should be following the lead of countries like Germany, where “tracking” isn’t a dirty word but a common-sense way to prepare teenagers for respected, well-paid work?”

The prompt:
You’ll want a dictionary for this one! Select a passage from one of your newspaper articles. Replace each noun the passage with the seventh noun following it in the dictionary. A hard-copy dictionary will make the exercise more varied and fun; however, you can also use the online N+7 generator to create your text.

I: I used my dictionary, Houghton Mifflin’s American Heritage Desk Dictionary, which I won in a writing contest held by the Detroit Free Press in 1984.
II: I used the N+7 online generator, and selected the “small (3000 nouns)” dictionary.
III: I used the generator, this time selecting the “large (11,700 nouns)” dictionary.

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A few interesting comments appeared in my spam queue in response to some of my “poems” for Found Poetry Review’s Oulipost experiment:

“That is total bigotryy or rigged through the producers. Absolutely nothing else makes sense.”

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Both are in response to my “warm-up” post, but they could also easily be responses to my “real” posts, or could easily be swapped out for my “real” posts themselves.

Oulipost #6: Blank Verse Amidst the Prose

He turns toward his wife, so she
can be reflective, you can be remorseful, you
let go of habits that no longer serve.

Indulge your curiosity, and try
to share the fact that he has no regrets,
sees nothing wrong with what he’s done. In fact,

I think we knew the story, too, which kind
officials subsequently traced — a small
device that uses kinetic energy.

They wondered whether surgery could fix
the odds of learning something that would save
this type of disconnect — a gap between.

I’m asking him to think about something,
or every single question asked of him:
a rubber ball to squeeze, but he kept dropping it.

His name, therefore, is thrown around often.
A ceremony of another kind.



Appleford, Steve. “Errol Morris pores over Rumsfeld’s words”. Chicago Tribune. 6 April 2014: Arts + Entertainment, 2.

Black, Nancy. Horoscopes. Chicago Tribune. 6 April 2014:  Arts + Entertainment, 9.

Bullington, Jonathan. “Dog has quite an unusual tale: Abandoned for over a month in vacant apartment, pooch survives — thrives”. Chicago Tribune. 6 April 2014: 9.

Cohen, Jodi S. “Slight of hands: Wael Farouk can’t make a fist or open a jar, but he’s mastered one of the toughest challenges for any pianist”. Chicago Tribune. 6 April 2014: 1.

Forina, Anastasia. “Northwestern students win $75K for device”. Chicago Tribune. 6 April 2014:  Business, 4.

Frink, Sarah. “Getting the good out of a not-so-good evaluation”. Chicago Tribune. 6 April 2014:  Business, 14.

McIntyre, Gina. “… and endangered men”. Chicago Tribune. 6 April 2014:  Arts + Entertainment, 1.

Noel, Josh.  “Way off the path: Charming, undeveloped Bimini a rarity even to Bahamians”. Chicago Tribune. 6 April 2014: Travel, 1.

Zorn, Eric. “Reusable bags may be dirty but they’re better than plastic”. Chicago Tribune. 6 April 2014: 16.

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

Oulipost #5: Tautogram

radioactive river!


(Rapid removal)


Reimburse regional remove,




Humans history.

Homo human has her human,
has half,
has — have — history.

Heretofore: history,
History: home.

Having her,
have hibernated hundreds,
has halfway,
have her–
her human history–
human history home.

Has hunting human,
(huge hinting)
Homo have harmony.



Sources (in order of appearance):
Hawthorne, Michael and Matthew Walberg. “$130M OK’d to clean up Chicago-area radioactive waste”. Chicago Tribune. 5 April 2014: 4.
Bentley, Chris. “A product of our own true nature:
‘The Sixth Extinction’ examines whether humans are causing the planet’s upheaval or are victims of their destiny”. Chicago Tribune. 5 April 2014: 13.

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