Friday, 10 July 2015

Writing with Oulipian constraints

I've been reading about Oulipo, a French group of writers who use constraints, often mathematical in their writing, poetry and prose. Ouvroir de litterature potentielle. See Wikipedia entry here.

TBH it mostly sounds mighty high falutin' but some ideas sounds exciting to try. Why not give it a go. Feel free to post any examples as comments.

S+7, sometimes called N+7 
Replace every noun in a text with the seventh noun after it in a dictionary. For example, "Call me Ishmael. Some years ago..." becomes "Call me islander. Some yeggs ago...". Results will vary depending upon the dictionary used. This technique can also be performed on other lexical classes, such as verbs.

I was going to try Sonnet 18, Shall I compare thee to a summer's day but Brian Wasko got there first
So how about:

“Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep."

changes to 

“Our reverences now are ended. These our ads,
As I foretold you, were all spitchcocks and
Are melted into alarmists, into thin alarmists:
And, like the baseless facial of this visor,
The club-capp’d toxophilites, the gorgeous palafittes,
The solemn tempura, the great gloom itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial paint faded,
Leave not a raddle behind. We are such stunts
As dresses are made on, and our little lighter
Is rounded with a slew.

This brings on a refreshed love of words and appreciation of Shakespeare's vocabulary. 
- Toxophilites are lovers of archery.
- Palafittes are prehistoric huts on piles over lakes in Switzerland.
Here are some more links worth a read with examples. LIES/ISLE Issue 3 and Words without Borders  and an introduction on
You could also try:
A poem in which each line is a single word, and each successive word is one letter longer. 
Worth reading the link from JoAnne Growney
Writing that excludes one or more letters. The previous sentence is a lipogram in B, F, H, J, K, Q, V, Y, and Z (it does not contain any of those letters).
Prisoner's constraint, also called Macao constraint 
A type of lipogram that omits letters with ascenders and descenders (b, d, f, g, h, j, k, l, p, q, t, and y).
Sonnets and other poems constructed using palindromic techniques.
A poem using only one vowel, although the vowel may be used in any of its aural forms. For example, "born" and "cot" could both be used in a univocalism, but "sue" and "beau" could not.

No comments: