Oulipost, Day 5 – Tautogram

“Big.  Big brown.  Big brown bear.  Big brown bear, blue bull.  Big brown bear, blue bull, blowing bubbles, biking backward – BUMP!….” – The Berenstein Bears B Book.  Stan and Jan Berenstein’s tautogram as children’s book has been seared into my brain since I was about three.  The constraint Tautogram (tautos gr. ‘the same’) simply requires that every word begin with the same letter.  I feared this constraint would alternately drive me to write nonsense or verse worthy of children’s lit. (let the record state that I am a huge fan of Dr. Seuss, but, still…)
As a writer, I appreciate the difficulty of this challenge.  As a reader, I have a hard time paying attention after about two lines.  Boring. So, I wanted to pull off something that would actually keep a reader engaged, and have some emotional punch.  Boy, did I get lucky with my text.  Both the title and the closing lines showed up, in order, as they appear in the poem.  This piece really revealed itself to me, and I just had to go searching for some material to fill in the middle.
I knew from the warm-ups to this exercise that Nancy Chen Long owns this form. Check out her Oulipost for it; it does not disappoint.  She allows herself some articles, pronouns, etc. which do not conform to her chosen letter designation.  I really think this helps with the flow of the piece, and she has great rhythm.   Take a look at offerings by other Ouliposters at the Found Poetry Review.

 

Sector Six

state-sanctioned
strobes search
soldiers shooting
sirens, scanners, sparks
smoking, shadows, shrapnel
suddenly –
still
still
still

 

Lewiston Daily Sun, April 5, 2014

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2 thoughts on “Oulipost, Day 5 – Tautogram

  1. Too funny, I talked about the B Book in my comments for this poem as well! And yes, I still have the majority of it memorized, and am a Dr. Seuss fan as well. Great stuff… still keep them on my shelves, even tho my kids are mostly grown. Great S poem BTW. 🙂

  2. Thanks for the shout-out, Sonja! Your poem hits all the senses in five short lines. So effective…and the ending, each ‘still’ a soldier down. Excellent!

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