tell me again by Julia Klatt Singer

Autumn Sky Poetry Daily

tell me again Singer

tell me again

about the man
with the pear tree
who lost his wife
after fifty-six years of marriage
and how that tree doesn’t know when enough is enough
that last August
he had to prop the poor thing’s branches up
with two-by-fours
it was so laden with fruit.
He gave you a bagful of those pears
and their scent filled the car
even with the windows rolled down.

by Julia Klatt Singer

Editor’s Note: This ekphrastic poem handles grief with a sideways feint—spoken of between the lines, with fruit and movement.

Painting by Julia Klatt Singer

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Oulipost, Day 14 – Column Inches

Today’s post is another substitution constraint – select an advertisment or classified item in your paper, then select an article.  Substitute all the nouns in the classified column with nouns lifted, in order, from the article.  The first, and most significant constraint here is that the Boston Globe doesn’t have print classifieds anymore, and precious little online.  After scratching my head for a bit, I remembered Uncle Henry’s!  Uncle Henry’s is a little classified magazine that you can pick up in any gas station in Maine or New Hampshire.  Need a new ice fishing auger?  Want to sell your snowmobile?  Got a fresh litter of Coon kittens?  Uncle Henry’s is the place to go, and now they are online.  Because they don’t charge to post, the postings are a lot longer and more interesting that what little the Globe had to offer.  I selected an article from the Globe, rearranged things just a bit, and I’m actually pretty happy with the outcome!

Check out a great column inches Oulipost from my friend across the pond, Winston Plowes – it’s worth a fair chuckle.   Find other column inch Oulipo offerings at the Found Poetry Review.

Leave a New Song

I have worked for the city
in the peppy beat of the music.

Whatever you need help beyond –
the sky, light, message, people

making dance, please call.
I will get back to afternoon.

I have great strength; I can
come to help you in your rain.

Uncle Henry’s Online, Community Bulletin Board

Boston Globe, April 14, 2014
Steele, Anne. Dancers sing praises of community’s strength

Oulipost, Day 8 – Beautiful Inlaw (Beau Present)

We have come to one of the Oulipo constraints which has a name I just adore – Beau Present.  Being enamoured of the name doesn’t make the constraint any easier, though.  With the beautiful inlaw, we are to compose a poem which is comprised only of the letters found in the name which we chose from our paper; ideally, the poem is for the person named.  This is one constraint where I think everyone is using an online anagram generator.  The name I selected, Bizimana Emmanuel, had over 30,000 anagrams.  I gave up looking at them after a thousand. Lesson learned – longer is not always better. Ouliposter Doug Lumen handled this one beautifully.  See his Oulipo Beau Present , and check out the beautiful inlaws of other Ouliposters at the Found Poetry Review.

Bouquet for Bizimana Emmanuel

zinnia amble –
blue azalea beam
biennial amaze

a main umbel
a zen elm
a lime, ablaze


Sullivan, Katherine. Rwanda marks genocide history
Boston Globe, April 8, 2014

Oulipost, Day 15 – Prisoner’s Constraint

Today’s constraint gave me a new experience – I made a black-out poem.  It was gibberish, I didn’t use it, but I actually took sharpie to paper, and blacked out all the words I didn’t want.  Baby steps, people.  I felt an odd pang, reading the article line by line, and blacking out the words behind me, never to be seen or read again.  It seemed….wrong….heretical, even.  I don’t know how all the black-out Remixers did it, really.
Anyway….Prisoner’s Constraint. Select your target article, and compose a poem using only words which do not have flags or tails (when in lowercase): a, c, e, i, m, n, o, r, s, u, v, w, x, and z.  You are in literary jail, and it’s just too crowded for those long, gangly letters.  The first article didn’t yield enough words for my liking, so I went where you go for help – the advice column. Armed with a few extra words, I constructed a constraint poem that I can live with.

Today, I’m going to recommend the post of a fellow Greater Boston Ouliposter, Nicole Beaudoin.  Today is the one-year anniversary of the Marathon Bombing, and there was more than a little written about it in the Globe.  I elected not to use any of the marathon articles, and I’m glad I didn’t, because Nicole did them proud with her Oulipost .   Check out other Prisoner’s Constraints at the Found Poetry Review.


since a music career
ruins a man, since

misuse comes now, – and
we’ve seen some misuse,

we can even name
some – since no one

senses us, no one
saves us, no one

even cares, we can
own a raw universe

The Boston Globe, April 15, 2014

Goodwin, Jeremy. Lovely, dark, and deep

Goldstein, Meredith. Love Letters: Affair is over, obsession is not

Oulipost, Day 12 – The Sonnet

I have really been looking forward to this Oulipost.  I love sonnets, and there are over seventy of them, just waiting to be read, on the FPR Oulipost page!  I’ve not yet had a chance to read all the sonnets which are posted, but I’m going to recommend this one by Ouliposter Andrea Dickens.   Talk about grabbing the reader by the title!  And the sonnet rocks too.
Of course, we all immediately think Shakespeare when we think sonnet, and his Elizabethan sonnets are the standard, but they are not the only type.  You can explore the basic sonnet forms at                Sonnets are still very much in use, in modern poetry, but they are often in disguise.  You probably won’t find the sing-songy, end-rhyming beasties that you had to read in high school.  Instead, poets will use more typical speech rhythms, they may make the line break mid-phrase (enjambment) instead of using an end stop, and subtle slant rhymes are more commonly employed than hard rhymes.  You don’t even have to do any of that, though.  In contemporary poetry, if you have 14 lines, you have a sonnet.  It would be nice if it had a turn of subject/mood/focus (a volta) in it somewhere that matched up with turn placement in a classic form, but this is not strictly required. Oulipo sonnets might consist of only one word per line, or of endlessly long lines.
I have really enjoyed the centos that we’ve done thus far, so my sonnet is also a cento, with parts lifted from anywhere in the paper my heart desired.  I made free with the lines, though, cutting words, stealing a verb or article from another place, or changing the ending or plurality of the word.  Knowing that tomorrow’s prompt is a wedding song, I elected to make today’s poem a parting song.   I meant it to be an anti-romantic poem, but there are many kinds of parting, so you will no doubt take from it what you want – as well you should. Enjoy!

Parting Song

Days after a heart is retracted
we only have the ability to do certain things.
We can go looking for answers in the blaze –
who is at fault, what the problems are,
the integrity used in two sets of images,
the skittish equation encompassing who we are –
the hardest battle when you’re working on
the fringe, they’re on view, at once stiff and florid.

Or, despite widespread public longing, we
can do things that are fun and whimsical: give
kisses to families handing out orange slices,
examine the regenerative capacity of the heart.
Unspeakably taboo, the unexpectedly beautiful
terrain of your life after a death.  Beginners welcome.

Bibliography: Boston Globe, April 12, 2014

Beite, Thea: Tuite, Lisa. From the archives

Durkin, Alanna. Maine health plan vetoed

Irons, Meghan. US Agency to probe deadly Back Bay fire

Johnson, Carolyn. Troubles in their field; cardiovascular researcher at Brigham faces more questions

McQuaid, Cate. Staying true to her “Selves”

Ross, Casey. A vision to put more waterfront on the map

Teitell, Beth. Texting Tragedy

Wallenberg, Christopher. Whistler will let its stage go dark

Welcome to Oulipost! Day One – Quote Cento

Ah, the cento.  A classic poetic form, hailing back to ancient Greece.  The cento is simplicity itself – you just take lines from other poets, remix them into an order that pleases you, and voila! You have a cento.  Sounds simple, right?  Well, maybe, but there is no poetry in the Boston Globe, today.  So, instead of using lines from other poems, the Oulipost Cento assignment is to take quotes which you find, and rearrange them into a poem.  Any quotes you like, you can mix and match, you can use part or all of a quote.

What I learned from today’s exercise is – A) the sports section has the most quotes, by far. B) I am not very interested in what people have to say about sports. C) newspaper writers use a lot of cliches, especially when they are quoting people. D) centos are very, very hard!

Here is my Quote Cento, from the April 1st Boston Globe.  You can see quote centos by other Ouliposters at the Found Poetry Review.  Happy National Poetry Month!

I Fell in Love at First Sound

Sitting here today, I
cannot tell you why it
took years for your debut.

You can feel the wind; every
cell, every particle of matter
in the world made us ready.

It’s been like an endless winter,
and it’s raining; it got up in
that wind, one of those salvos.

No one dreamed – at least, I
didn’t.  It’s a miracle; I want
to keep it going.

There is no coming back.
The process we are going
through now is inevitable.

Benbow, Julian. C6 A happy return for Sizemore.
Booth, William. A5 Ex-Israeli leader convicted of taking bribes
Goldstein, Meredith; Shanahan, Mark. B16 Louis-Drefus happy in the Hub
Leung, Shirley; Ross, Casey. A11 Unease over a go-slow BRA
Luna, Taryn. B11 Growing Pains: for garden stores, sprint is on
Marchione, Marilynn. A9 Obesity surgery may reduce diabetes
Pear, Robert. A2 Software error, traffic snarl health care sign-ups
Reed, James. G6 Groundbreaking Lavender Country album gets new life
Sullivan, James. G8 Glacier lover’s efforts crystallized US environmental thought
Trister, Noah. C7 Fresh faces lift Detroit past KC
Wald, Matthew. B9 GM withheld key data, official to tell Congress
Weesner, Ted. G14 From Page to Stage

Oulipost, Day 29 – Canada Dry

“Canada Dry, the champagne of ginger ales”.  Bubbly like champagne, tawny like champagne, but not actually champagne.  Write a poem which sounds as if it has been Oulipoed, but, in fact, hasn’t.
I’m not certain how successful I was, but it was fun and zany, and had a building and retreating line constraint.  Ouliposter Carol Stephen had a wonderful homage to the beverage in question, and you can see the effervescent writing of the other Ouliposters at the Found Poetry Review.

“I’m doing the best I can”

When dealing with a gnome-obsessed local
holding a guitar and a bunch of cherries,
constantly pulling down the sleeves
of his drab sweatshirt,

when the leviathan known as reality
comes from her own past into
a dashingly painted, double-wide trailer,

when it doesn’t quite pay off – the saintliness
of the father against the son

when the words that were audible
weren’t always the right ones

you need an ability to call things
by their real names, a love of disguises
fancy dress (and I don’t mean a lot);

you need acolytes – predictably quirky –
characters who used to fight, all the time,
but now continue to enthrall us, less
like real people than expository devices.


Boston Globe, April 29, 2014

Aucoin, Don. “Good Television” exposes a harsh reality

Copobianco, Ken. Eli ‘Paperboy’ Reed; Nights Like This

Gantz, Jeffrey. Voight has a ball at Symphony Hall

Gilbert, Michael. Live-in besties in ‘Playing House’

Hirsh, Marc. Pixies still have ‘Indie’ spirit

Maas, Steven. An ‘apocolyptic comedy’ inspired by one of history’s darkest chapters

O’Neil, Luke. The Ghost of a saber Tooth Tiger; Midnight Sun

Singal, Jesse. Study of psychopaths fascinates and frustrates

Smee, Sebastian. Who’s that girl?

Sullivan, James. Pressing On

Oulipost, Day 25 – Larding

Larding – line stretching, fattening up the poem.  Begin with two lines from your selected text.  Add a line between them.  Add a line between lines 1 and 2, and between lines 2 and 3.  Now you have five lines – add lines in between these so that there are 9 lines.  And so on, until you feel you have enough.
This was another constraint that I loved!  I selected two articles, and transferred lines from them to working papers.  Then I alternated selecting lines from one article and the other, as I built the poem.  So, for me, this is essentially a cento with a constraint on the construction.
I went up to the point of having 17 lines; I could have simply presented the completed piece, but am taken the way the versions both stood on their own and also built up to the final stanza.  Hope you enjoy, and see how other Ouliposters have fattened the goose at the Found Poetry Review.



Poet of the urban landscape –
I don’t have a present to offer in return.

Poet of the urban landscape,
everything in my life really doesn’t matter –
I don’t have a present to offer in return.

Poet of the urban landscape,
make our cities livable, humane, inspiring.
Everything in my life really doesn’t matter;
it means breath, air, climate, wind.
I don’t have anything to offer in return.

Poet of the urban landscape –
a landscape that bears the marks of both –
make our cities livable, humane, inspiring.
Being in a place where I feel so small,
everything in my life really doesn’t matter.
This combination of density and unstraight lines,
it means breath, air, climate, wind.
They are all valid; they all exist at the same time.
I don’t have a present to offer in return.

Poet of the urban landscape –
green and ungridded,
a landscape that bears the marks of both –
it is its own wilderness.
Make our cities livable, humane, inspiring,
their practicality and resilience.
Being in a place where I feel so small,
seven storylines that end up intersecting,
everything in my own life really doesn’t matter.
This adder, concealed within its green bosom,
this combination of density and unstraight lines,
they have to learn to listen to each other.
It means breath, air, climate, wind,
a memory from childhood of the missiles on their launches.
They are all valid; they all exist at the same time.
The thing from which everything goes and comes back –
I don’t have a present to offer in return.


Boston Globe, April 25, 2014

Matchan, Linda. Perspectives on climate change inspired by Arctic

Rotella, Carlo. Poet of the urban landscape

Oulipost, Day 9 – Headlines

This is another variation on the cento – compose a poem using only headlines, or sections of headlines, from today’s paper.  It was very interesting to see how different the language was, between the headlines and quotes.  And, of course, there was far less material to draw from in the headlines.  Reading offerings from other Ouliposters, I have realized just how much of the news is repeated everywhere.  You can see the same line or phrase used by multiple writers.  The words are used differently, of course, by different people, but it made me appreciate the regional nature of my paper, and I tried to favour headlines from local reporters. I allowed myself articles, and to repeat a word or two.  Also, I made a mistake.  In writing up my bibliography, I discovered that a word I had used should have been “grove”, not “groove” – but I like the effect of the mistake, so I’ll let the keyboard participate in writing this one.  Who am I to argue?
I really enjoy the Headline cento by Ouliposter Roxanna Bennett.  Check out more Oulipo Headlines from the Found Poetry Review .



they break out, a perfect match –
amid standouts, they stand out

the rose of new
the brights of way

choosier than a town in tangle
than a network in groove

our fascination with
the unknown embraces

enlightening after darkness
diamonds on the first date


Bibliography, Boston Globe April 9, 2014

Baker, Billy. Town in tangle on how to label the Yuletide break

Blair, Diane; Wright, Pamela. Rose of New England is a late bloomer

Borchers, callum. In case of emergency, they break out Google Glass; Beth Isreal Deaconess embraces wearable screens

Farrell, Michael. Boston launches free Wi-Fi network in Grove Hall

Holmes, Baxter. Amid standouts, they stand out

Keene, Tom. Our fascination with the unknown

Reidy, Chris. Diamonds on the first date?  Why not?

Vega, Michael. Perfect match

Weather column, A1. Brights of way

Whitmer, Michael. Enlightening after darkness


Exit Oulipost – the Melting Interview

It has been such a wild ride – I could not have imagined a writing experience more intense than last year’s Pulitzer Remix, but this was.  We’ve all been saying goodbyes and making plans to keep in touch and keep writing together (and I know we will!), but I wanted to bookend this month of Ouliposting with an Oulipian style interview.  Here are the FPR interview questions, in reverse, after the month’s experience, plus a few which the editors threw in later. I’ve taken some liberties with the questions, but then, this is all about taking liberties – isn’t it?


FPR: Who is your spirit Oulipostian?

After a whole month of trying to be free-spirited, wild, and crazy, I’d have to say I now have even more respect for John Ashbery than I already did.  I think of him as a serious, introspective poet, but through Oulipo I was exposed to his silly, playful sestina around the characters from the comic “Popeye”.  If a writer like Ashbery can find it in himself to let loose, surely there is hope for me!


FPR: What are the top three poems you wrote during this project?

Well, my personal favourites were the Quote Cento “I Fell in Love at First Sound“, the Larding “Invocation“, and the Irrational Sonnet “Bird Sightings“.


FPR: What did you learn about choosing text to mine for material?

First off, I’ve never been a reader of the Boston Globe, so I’ve gained a real appreciation for the way in which a paper of that size is put together.  I was surprised  that some of the most passionate writing was to be found in the sports section; I gleaned a lot of material from those fields. Perhaps the biggest thing I learned about my source text is the value of using local writers.  Reading through many Ouliposts, I could often see where writers selected the same quotes.  Though I shared the Globe with another Ouliposter, I hope I was able to minimize overlaps by focusing on subjects and writers from this region.


FPR: Describe your street.

It is long to me, a dirt road; halfway is a nice lady who sometimes gives me a cool drink.  I find snakes in the dust when it is dry, tiny brown frogs in the puddles when it is damp.  Beside the road are daisies and purple clover, and I sip their nectar through each little red petal. At the end is quicksand on one side; on the other the yellow house with it’s basement, soldering iron, and the cherry smell of burnt flesh. (this is my memory of the first street I lived on; suddenly I see why this is an Oulipo question).


FPR: What did you learn about writing experimental or found poetry?

I learned that writing poetry which is both experimentally constrained and found is very, very hard!  My average time for writing each of these was about three hours; there were several which took me five hours!  I was surprised by which forms I liked, and which I didn’t.  It turns out that I love cento work, and I had never tried my hand at it.  I also came to think of found poetry as having three basic categories: erasures (I would call forms like the Snowballs and Univocalism types of erasures), pastiche or remix (my sonnets were definitely remixed), and centos (I used phrases and lines as cento work in forms such as Larding and Confabulation).


FPR:  In reflection, what was actually “scary” about Oulipo?

Maybe not scary, but intimidating – trying to “make it new”, and come up with interesting, fresh ways to approach constraints that I was uncomfortable with.  I think Ouliposter Margo Roby just nailed it early on with her lipogram – that piece was my inspiration every time I felt stumped by a prompt.  And while this wasn’t scary, I was rather sad that I could not get to read everyone’s posts every day.  Really, by the end of the month, it was such a struggle to keep up with my own posts that I would only get a chance to read a few.  I intend to spend much of May remedying that!


FPR:  What was the most exciting part about Oulipost?

Wow, that’s a toss up!  The writing itself was just so exhilarating – the constant challenges, the break-neck speed, the rush when a piece worked, either through intent or lagniappe.  Equally wonderful were my fellow Ouliposters, though.  Many of us had never worked a blog before (raises hand), and the community was so helpful and supportive as we learned the ropes.  Everyone helped talk each other through confusing prompts and read and commented on each other’s writing as much as we could.  There are some shockingly good poems on each and every Ouliblog!  I was constantly amazed and inspired.


FPR: So, would you do it all again? What’s next?

Would I!  I need to rest and recover, but part of me absolutely cannot wait to see what the outstanding editors at the Found Poetry Review come up with for next year’s National Poetry Month!  Jenni Baker, Beth Ayer, Doug Lumen and Marty Elwell are beyond the best – they’ve assembled a dream team of enthusiastic writers, and handled every aspect of Oulipo with grace and wit.  On top of all that, they each wrote for all the Oulipost prompts as well – unbelievable! We, the Ouliposters, salute you!  As to what’s next, first some rest, then back to submitting.  I’d really fallen off the wagon with that.  Oh, and the Oulihive is already buzzing with project ideas….


FPR: What questions do you have for your teaspoons?  What questions do your teaspoons have for you?

What questions do I have for my teaspoons? – What is the point of you? Why do you take up space in my drawers?  Don’t you know that I am a Tassajarra baker, and measure just with my hands and fingertips?  What questions do my teaspoons have for me? – Why do you ruin so much food?  What does it mean to measure? How many households have we lived in?