Monday, January 26, 2009

Monday Poetry Stretch - Lipogram

I so enjoyed the challenge of writing my OULIPO last week that I think we should try writing lipogram poems. A lipogram is a piece of writing that avoids one or more letters of the alphabet. You can read more about lipograms at A.Word.A.Day.

Here is an example of a lipogram. It comes from Gadsby, the 1939 story (more than 50,000 words!) by Ernest Vincent Wright that does not contain the letter E.
"Now, any author, from history's dawn, always had that most important aid to writing: an ability to call upon any word in his dictionary in building up his story. That is, our strict laws as to word construction did not block his path. But in my story that mighty obstruction will constantly stand in my path; for many an important, common word I cannot adopt, owing to its orthography."
So, which letter or letters will you slight? Write a poem this week omitting one or more letters. Leave me a comment about your poem and I'll post the results here later this week.


  1. Now that's quite the challenge, or so it seems...I'll get right on it. Sorry I missed last week's, that would have been fun.

  2. Okay, it's done...without a singl* '*'

    Thanks for the challenge.

  3. Ooo, ooo, ooo, I just finished mine and I love it (for the moment, anyway), but I'm going to hold off until Poetry Friday to post it. Thanks for the challenge!

  4. Without U

    When my dear one died,
    I was by his side
    in a chair,
    holding his hand,
    speaking of love.
    His son standing
    played a song
    he’d especially loved.
    Then son and I,
    now the only “we” in the room,
    “Go across the water,”
    which the song spoke of.
    “Go beloved,
    sans fear, sans care
    for the children, wife, life.”
    And he floated away
    in death becoming
    and birdsong.

    Jane Yolen

  5. Oh, I'm going to have to try this one.

    Meanwhile, Jane, that is lovely and shattering.

    now the only “we” in the room,

    That line really got me, and then the whole ending, too. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  6. I don't know how to hotlink in the comments field. But I posted my lipogram on

    Sorry for the long URL. I liked this exercise because I had no idea what direction it was going. I was completely surprised.
    Also, I'm new here. Does Poetry Stretch have anything to do with Poetry Friday? Are the stretches due on Friday? Hmmmm...I could probably search for this info but I've spent too much time writing.

  7. Wow! I've never heard of a lipogram before! It seems like quite a challenge! I think students would find this a lot of fun and a bit challenging as well. It is probably surprising to realize how much you use each letter when you have to be limited to not using a particular letter. What a fun and challenging type of poetrty!

  8. I tried a reverse lipogram in which every word had to contain the letter "d" - I don't know if this counts! (That sort of poetry probably has a name all of its own lol..) Anyway, it was fun and I appreciated your inspiration :D I shall have to try a proper lipogram as well sometime.

  9. Jane, that is remarkable.

    I missed the Poetry Stretch deadline this week, but I'm feeling goofy tonight, so here is a late addition, a poem with no you. I mean, know u:


    Saved the last
    dance for him, saved
    a polka, saved
    the sad song
    for someone else,
    meanwhile saved the whales,
    saved the three little pigs
    from the wolf,
    saved me from myself
    while he waited,
    saved pennies, saved
    lives, saved
    the waving wheat,
    saved anything
    in need of saving,
    saved collectibles,
    saved green stamps,
    saved salt
    and pepper shakers,
    saved styrofoam boxes,
    saved the day
    and the planet
    all while he waited,
    and then he saved me
    a piece, saved me
    a seat, saved me
    a place in Heaven.

  10. Hee, after a couple of poems with no U, how about one with no I? I posted mine over at my blog.