Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Tuesday Poetry Stretch - Lipogram

I looked back over the last month and realized I have failed to post a stretch for several weeks now. Mea culpa, mea culpa. If you only knew about all the crazy things happening in my life! Please forgive my absence here. I've missed writing with you! I have been working on a project with the Poetry Princesses that I hope will be unveiled in a few short weeks.

That said, today I'm thinking about the lipogram. 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."
Here's another form of lipogram favored by JonArno Lawson in A VOWELLER'S BESTIARY. This alphabet book is based on vowel combinations rather than initial letters. The lipograms in this book exclude certain vowels from each set and include each of the vowels in the word. Here's an example.
Excerpt from  "Moose"
(p. 30) 
Yellow-toothed wolves
lope somewhere close, rove homeless over broken slopes,
overwhelm moose's forest home.
Moose seldom welcome wolves.

So, which letter or letters will you slight? Write a poem this week omitting one or more letters. I Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.


  1. There are no j's in this poem. Dropping a vowel was awfully daunting!


    The wind winds
    around my house,
    seeking to suck marrow
    from wooden bones.

    Inside, I try
    to extract meat
    from the bones of words.
    The wind and I pause

    to glance at each other,
    knowing our work
    has no end.
    Then both of us sigh

    and try again.

    —Kate Coombs, 2014
    all rights reserved

  2. "J" for me as well. That was fun!

    Kneading dough,
    Vats of homemade
    Minestrone soup
    Bubbling its aroma,
    Radio shimmering
    Its pleasures,
    I feel a surge
    Of blessings
    Resonate through
    My spirit.

    (c) Charles Waters 2014 all rights reserved.