Monday, November 05, 2007

Monday Poetry Stretch - OULIPO

Inspired by TadMack's poetry Friday post entitled Painfully Bad Math, I decided that this week's stretch would take poetry on a different kind of mathematical journey. WAIT! Don't go -- keep reading! The OULIPO is a form created in 1960 by a writer and mathematician. The form is designed to examine verse written under strict constraints. There are many constraint forms. Here are just a few that look interesting.
  • S+7: The writer takes a poem already in existence and substitutes each of the poem’s substantive nouns with the noun appearing seven nouns away in the dictionary. This can also be used with verbs.
  • Snowball: A poem in which each line is a single word, and each successive word is one letter longer. This form could also start with one word with each line growing by one word.
  • Lipogram: Writing that excludes one or more letters.
You can read more about this form at Wikipedia and The official site is here, but alas, I do not read French. (However, the Google language tools are somewhat helpful.)

So, do you want to play? What kind of OULIPO will you write? Leave a comment about your poem and what constraint form you used, and I'll post the results later this week.


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  2. LOL as soon as you said "math" I said "well, I can't do this one". Then I looked again and s-t-t-t-r-r-e-t-c-h-e-d. I tried the snowball form. I think I can! I think I can!

  3. I looked up some info on this and found a constraint called monovocolism which uses only one vowel, so I'm going to give that a try, but it may take me a little longer than usual.

  4. I don't know if you've heard of Christian Bok's Eunoia or not, but I'd definitely recommend it. It's a collection of lipograms, sort of.