Oulipost, Day 26 Belle Absente (Beautiful Outlaw)

Oy vey!  What a constraint!  This took me hours – five hours, and without Doug Luman’s amazing Oulitools, it would have taken twice that.  I cannot imagine going through the article and selecting out words, by hand.  Well, I can imagine it, but doing so gives me hives. Huzzah for technology!
So, Beautiful Outlaw (great name).  Select your text, and select a name.  Your poem will be as long as the number of letters in your selected name (the name IVY would generate a three line poem).  In each line, you must use every letter of the alphabet except the letter which corresponds to that line.  So, with the name Ivy, the first line would use every letter except I, the second line would use every letter except V, the third line would use every letter except Y.  Oh, and your text?  All your words should be drawn from that.
I found this prompt to be extremely…challenging.  The name I chose was New Sweden, which was the setting of my article.  The only word containing Z in the whole article was “blazing”; I also ran into some difficulties with J and X.  In the end, I had to decide between not using all the required letters, or selecting words from outside my article.  I chose to honour the spirit of the constraint, and use 25 letters, drawing them from elsewhere in my paper if I really needed to.  When I was able to draw everything from my article, I did so, but this resulted in a rash overuse of the word blazing, and highly stilted language.  I’m not crazy about this poem, but I would try the constraint again.  Just – next time – source text not requisite.
You can go see the Belle Absente work of other Ouliposters at the Found Poetry Review.

New Sweden

Our bodies had aged by quick years, we awoke, lax, from those sleep dazed beds, just lives.
Just quick hands and partial paralysis, still convincing doctors that blazing dawn claims to fix
exacerbating memories. Masking graver questions, blazing distress from younger years, they have just planned

a blazing antidote to rid the body of toxicology. Prepared for equal damage, reviewing joked
effects and courageous battles, blazing anthrax victims. Yet possibly questions just mask
vividly quick poisonings, blazing radiation. Full with anthrax, full with major suspicion,

experts possibly masking the blazing, bitter taste, we fear equal lives, we just stockpile
a bunch of rapidly blazing applications. Major talk was far from our quick minds, a varying fix
for the bitter discovery, exams that cause such distress, dazed jokes perhaps equal great work.



Lewiston Sun Journal, April 26, 2014
Farwell, Jackie. Nurse recalls identifying arsenic as the poison in New Sweden case


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