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


7 thoughts on “Oulipost, Day 15 – Prisoner’s Constraint

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