I love constraint, really; I spent many years writing according to meters and rhyme schemes, which are, in themselves, perfectly fine constraints. I appreciate having to be inventive within a small space, the process of having to think and rethink how to say what you want to while still ending a word with a certain emphasis, or using specific sounds. That kind of pressure pushes your creativity, forces you to handle words and sounds in ways you might not otherwise have done. I’ve been looking at all these Oulipo prompts as exercises, etudes, designing to sharpen skills which I could then take back into my real writing. But I cannot say that I have actually appreciated Oulipo itself – until now. This was the first constraint in which I found myself actually having fun – being playful and silly with the words, instead of very seriously trying to create a well-constructed poem. Perhaps the intent of Oulipo is finally wearing off on me. The members of Oulipo always meant us to have fun with the process, and fun with the words – stop taking poetry so seriously! That will be a difficult swim for me, but perhaps I have dipped my toe in the water. Here is a link to a great, short, introduction to Oulipo, over at Penn Sound (and if you don’t know about Penn Sound, bookmark that site! It’s a treasure). Here is my Oulipost for day 11 – the Univocalism. The poem must be composed using only one vowel, and of course, sourced from a single article in the daily paper of your choice. To my delight, the Globe had this fantastic little article on an exhibit opening at the Worcester Art Museum. I’d also recommend this univocalism from Ouliposter Kate Moore. She makes very nice use of rhyme and slant rhyme in this taut little poem. You can also see the univocalic work of all the other Ouliposters at the Found Poetry Review.
It’s exciting, high-risk –
this pink light film sticks
this plinth will fit, this fight
will twist, slight crisis, right-
thinking which fist kills
Boston Globe, Spril 11, 2014
Smee, Sebastian. Ultimate warriors: Worcester Art Museum’s show of armor shines and surprises