Today’s Oulipo constraint is a variation on the Fibonacci. Fibonacci is a contemporary poetic form, using the sequence 1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21, 34, 55, 89, and so on. Typically, the first word has one syllable, as does the second, the third word has two syllables, the fourth word has three syllables…you get the idea. There are also variations based on numbers of letters or numbers of words. There is even an online literary journal devoted to this form – The Fib Review.
When Oulipo and found poetry collide, you get a new variation on this theme. The assignment for today’s Ouliposters is to select an article from the paper of our choice, and create a poem based on the sequence. The first word of the poem is the first word of the article, as is the second word. The third word of the poem is the second word of the article, the fourth word of the poem is the fifth word of the article….this is getting to be math. Don’t try it unless you have a cat available to help. (Cats help chiefly by lying on your newspapers and preventing you from attempting said math, because you might hurt yourself).
There are actually computer programs to help you select out the words in the sequence, provided you use an online version of your paper. 1,2,3,5,8, and 13 are not so bad, but by the time you start counting to 4,181, those online engines are looking pretty darned good. However, I do love having actual paper in my hands, so I did mine the old-fashioned way. Since I am a control freak, this was fine. I could tell pretty quickly that “Gerald, Gerald, Roy bought first quilt years Worcester” was not going to work for me. I knew there would be Oulipo constraints that produced poems too abstract for my tastes, and this is clearly the first of those. Don’t be discouraged by my sensibilities, though – my friend James Moore made an amazing Oulipo Fib from a sequence that I would have passed by completely.
This exercise reminded me quite a bit of doing dog-ear poems – a lot of searching, to find only a few – short – pieces that worked for me. Because they were short, I have several. I’ve posted them in my order of preference, but if you are a sports fan, you might find the last two more appealing than the first. Enjoy, and please do check out Fibs from other Ouliposters at the Found Poetry Review.
Four Fibonnaci variations, from the Boston Globe, April 4, 2014
1. We, we live in
a culture of madness,
making high-tech and TV
Gilbert, Matthew. Having fun with geek philospohy in’Valley’
2. Late, late last week
the crunch of the lobby
artist to grid.
McQuaid, Cate. For Ritchie, it’s playtime at the ICA
3. The the goal came –
The night’s better.
Benjamin, Amalie. Late goals starting to add up
4. They, they had a celebration –
Abraham, Peter. Ceremony will be ‘electric’