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Author Archives: margo roby

About margo roby

I spent the first twenty years of my life in Hong Kong, where my parents met and married and stayed. I spent the second twenty years of my life following my army husband around the world with our two children. The second twenty overlapped with the third by two years. My husband’s last posting was Jakarta, Indonesia and when he retired he joined me teaching at the international school. We lived there twenty years and I discovered writing poetry. Now we are living in Atlanta. My husband teaches at the international school and I retired from teaching, so I can concentrate my energy on my poetry.

Oulipoem 13: April 13 — Epithalamium

Now, there’s a mouthful.

The prompt:

An epithalamium is a poem written to celebrate the wedding, or more precisely the wedding bed. ‘An Oulipian epithalamium is composed exclusively with the letters of the names of the bride and bridegroom [bride and bride, groom and groom]. Visit the announcements section of your paper and select one couple. Write a poem using only words that can be made with the letters of their names.’ You may choose first names or full names depending on what you are comfortable with.

The process:

I chose full names, so I thank Judith Orlando and John Tamagni, may they live long and prosper. I entered their names into Scrabble Finder‘s wonderful word maker and chose words from the list. As the names are too long, I entered them in several permutations: johnjudith, judithorlando, johnorlando… As I needed something quick and enjoyed today’s sonnet exercise so much, I chose that as my form, sonnets being particularly suitable.

The poem:

a
duration
– morning
hour
to
haunt
hour
round –
no
handout
nor
trail:
hoard
undo

The source:

I am away from my wonderful source so have used the wedding section of the New York Times, online.

 

 

 
10 Comments

Posted by on 13/04/2014 in exercises, oulipost, poems, poetry, writing

 

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Oulipoem 12: April 12 — Sonnet

First things first: A call for submissions for Red Wolf Issue #2? This will be their summer issue and you can read all the info by heading over… after you write a poem.

The prompt:

‘Write a sonnet sourced from lines found in newspaper articles. You may choose your own sonnet type and should feel free to be creative with the rules. One known Oulipo variation is “sonnets of variable length,” in which one must compose a sonnet in which the lines are either as short as possible or as long as possible.’

A sonnet. Silence. Throws minor fit of despair. Receives much ‘there, there-ing’ the most important of which came from one of my co-participants, Carol A. Stephen, in the form of: You can write a sonnet of one word per line. Really? Perks up. No metre, or rhyme, but it does have a roughly 4x4x4x2 structure and a volta.

The poem:

Remaining
night –
roots
cut
loose,
drifting –
has
grown
more
introspective:
a
storyteller
bringing
truth.

The source:

Wiegand, David. ‘Cash jazzes up songs of South’; Datebook Music Review, San Francisco Chronicle; 12 April 2014. E3

 
19 Comments

Posted by on 12/04/2014 in exercises, oulipost, poems, poetry, writing

 

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Oulipo 11: April 11 — Univocalism

A heads up: a call for submissions to Red Wolf Issue #2. I’ll post the info tomorrow.

Having enjoyed the lipogram, I was not as fearful as I might have been of this prompt. I played with the idea of structuring the poem with a different vowel per stanza, but finally settled on the vowel I originally thought I wanted, ‘i’.

My own constraint was to take all my words from one article in the Chronicle’s ‘Datebook’ [which is where I am sourcing all my poems]. The columnist, Jon Carroll, had wonderful words to play with. I copied them down in order, but ended up shifting some around, except for tickly/ with/ still, which is the serendipitous combination that caught me.

The prompt:

‘A univocalist text is one written with a single vowel. It is consequently a lipogram in all the other vowels. If he had been univocally minded, Hamlet might have exclaimed, “Be? Never be? Perplexed quest: seek the secret!” All words must be sourced from your newspaper.’

The poem:

Night
brings
his lips

tickly
with
still;

his lips
bring
night,

win     I

find
lying
right.

The source:

Jon Carroll’s Column: ‘Datebook’ San Francisco Chronicle.  11 April 2014. E3

 
7 Comments

Posted by on 11/04/2014 in exercises, oulipost, poems, poetry, writing

 

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Oulipoem 10: April 10 — Snowball

That’s right, we haven’t had enough winter. I had a much harder time than I anticipated. My word lists were done by eight this morning but my brain refused to focus beyond that. I visited people, I read poems, I commented, I visited people… Thirty minutes ago, while I’m glancing at something on Facebook, I see, out of the corner of my eye, G is For Gumshoe, by Sue Grafton [I read mysteries and have been collecting the Graftons]. Bingo! I had my first couple of lines.

The prompt:

‘This procedure requires the first word of a text to have only one letter, the second two, the third three, and so on as far as resourcefulness and inspiration allow. The first word of a snowball is normally a vowel: in English, a I or O.

From your newspaper, select a starting vowel and then continue adding words of increasing length from the same source article or passage. Challenge yourself further by only using words in order as you encounter them in the text.’

The poem:

‘S’
is for
snow balls
inside –
magical,
her world
her window
her strange
inspiration.

The source:

All words from Datebook, the San Francisco Chronicle

 
18 Comments

Posted by on 10/04/2014 in exercises, oulipost, poems, poetry, writing

 

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Oulipoem 9: April 9 — Headlines

In some ways this prompt is more difficult than preceding ones because making headlines not sound like headlines is a challenge. I used whole headlines and half-headlines (headphrases?).

The prompt:

Compose a poem whose body is sourced from article headlines in your newspaper.

The poem:

The Saga of Shrimp Boy and the Stiletto Death

The lawyer in the mystery of the Stiletto Death –
building a defense for Shrimp Boy
– strikes a blow against an unlikely lineup,
blames the Feds for his client’s predicament.

Building a defense for Shrimp Boy
his lawyer — finally getting his shot
– blames the feds for his client’s predicament,
cautioning no panic. After L.A. deaths

his lawyer finally getting his shot,
says, let’s not jump the gun.
Cautioning no panic after L.A. deaths
says, could’ve been worse,

says, let’s not jump the gun –
the leading man role a good fit
– says, could’ve been worse
and battles to quell revolt in the media.

The leading man role — a good fit
– he ignores his thin chances
and battles to quell revolt in the media,
feels the power, sees no threat.

He ignores his thin chances –
chasing answers second nature
– feels the power, sees no threat
solving the mystery of the missing

FBI informant. Whoever succeeds
strikes a blow against an unlikely lineup,
Will it go on? don’t ask, says
the lawyer in the mystery of the Stiletto Death.

The source:

All sections of the San Francisco Chronicle. If I were to list the originals, and I can, it would be longer than the poem.

 
21 Comments

Posted by on 09/04/2014 in exercises, oulipost, poems, poetry, writing

 

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Oulipoem 8: April 8 — Beau Present

The prompt:

Select a name from one of your newspaper articles, famous or not. Compose a poem using only words that can be made from the letters in that person’s name. For example, if you selected “John Travolta,” you may only use words that can be made from the letters A, J, H, L, N, O, R, T and V.

The use of web-based tools is highly encouraged to help uncover different words that can be made from your letters of choice. One tool you might consider is the Scrabble Word Finder.

The names I looked at are: Peaches Geldof, Georgia O’Keefe, Francesco Marciuliano, and the one I chose [which was the first name I saw], Chinatown Station. Noticing that mutiny was spreading through the ranks in the form of not taking words from the article the names appear in, I cheerfully plunged in. Faced with seventy zillion words, I winnowed, while I waited for an epiphany. Once the idea struck, I needed to focus only on a few words and who knows, maybe these things happen at Chinatown Station.

The poem:

Chinatown Station

What?
I won’t!
I want to… wait… wait…
What’s…

(a satanic chant?)

Ah!
Oh!
Whoa!

(chainsaw!!!)

Now?

I can’t.
I can’t.

OW!

(Anon)

The source:

‘Datebook;’ San Francisco Chronicle 8 April 2014 E1

 
25 Comments

Posted by on 08/04/2014 in exercises, oulipost, poems, poetry, writing

 

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Oulipoem 7: April 7 — N+7

The prompt:

‘Select a passage from one of your newspaper articles. Replace each noun in the passage with the seventh noun following it in the dictionary.’  I added a constraint by going with whatever the text generator gave me, whether it missed a noun, or misidentified another part of speech. I had a lot more fun than I expected to this early in the morning.

The poem:

Your Horoscope + 7

ARIES
No one can knuckle you off     however
you can be     tricked into leaving
Be skeptical of “helpful”     today.

TAURUS
Be careful not to     shoot yourself in the footman.
You may have     earned your bragging right whales
but it doesn’t mean you have to     show them off.

GEMINI
One breech is all it takes     to lightning
a loved one’s spleen. This     couldn’t have happened
at a bicentenary timpanist. Lifetime at homily gets     easier.

CANCER
It’s hard to get excited about     pronunciations.
You’ve heard it all before.     But give today’s
a fresh hearthrug     because thistles have changed.

LEO
You’re given an “out”. If you feel like     you’re
out of your dervish then take it. There’s     no shard
in scallywag; you’ve gone as far as     you can go.

VIRGO
Forced to deathbed with a jab     hasn’t been easy,
but you’re stationed to see wretches. Keep     this
unorthodox aqualung to     hardship.

LIBRA
That certain someone who     popped up in your
lifetime recently    isn’t as foal-by-nightlight
as you think. Make rosary in your     heartthrob.

SCORPIO
The tightrope of oppression may be against     you,
but give it a court of weightlifters     and what’s out
will come rolling in     again.

SAGITTARIUS
You’re given     an option to merchant a rigour
so merchant it.     Even if you didn’t think you were
divisive it’s a good idiom to show you’re inclusive     now.

CAPRICORN
Hard work begins to pay off     but you could impede
your own projection     by sticking to fandango royalties.
Retraction the tried     and true.

AQUARIUS
An aphid     is put to restraint. Yes, you still
have to chapel some thistles     as a wretch of what
you’ve learned, but at least     you know it’s manageable.

PISCES
Sometimes the best wean     to bring harrow
to a skein     is to be assertive. Too much malfunction
and others take     advertisement.

The source:

Renstrom, Christopher. ‘Horoscope for Monday,’ San Francisco Chronicle 7 April 2014 E4

 
29 Comments

Posted by on 07/04/2014 in exercises, oulipost, poems, poetry, writing

 

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Oulipoem 6: April 6 — Blank Verse Blank

Today will show the workings of my mind rather than a product. Everything I tried will be here. At the end, I discovered my favourite is the list of lines as I copied them from the newspaper, so I placed a stanza break every third line. The number 9 is the number of syllables in those two lines [although, in some weird way, it works with the lines]. Admittedly, I’m still not breaking enough rules.

The prompt:

Compose a poem using unintentional lines of iambic pentameter found in your newspaper.

The lines I found:

she needs a holster on her garter 9
a pocket on her gown would ruin the line
a wedding garter smart phone holster 9

you promised to repair our roof today
now bow before my iron sofa and
you want to know the real reason they

I dropped my keys outside but it’s too dark
so leave my home and go back to your grave
if I could write a zombie movie I’d

exactly as we say or we shall let
the mega-horrors of your future life
unleash the power of the female brain

your loved one was a donor, please inform
saw joy and beauty in all things she saw
the spreading of her ashes was at sea

The attempts:

I dropped my keys outside but it’s too dark
so leave my home and go back to your grave
the mega-horrors of your future life;

unleash the power of the female brain
exactly as we say, or we shall let

————————

your loved one was a donor, please inform
exactly as we say or we shall let
the mega-horrors of your future life
unleash the power of the female brain

——————–

If I could write a zombie movie, I’d
unleash the power of the female brain;
now bow before my iron sofa     and
the mega-horrors of your future life.

————————-

You want to know the real reason they
unleash the power of the female brain?

———————–

You promised to repair our roof today
exactly as we say, or we shall let
the mega-horrors of your future life
unleash the power of the female brain.

—————-
The sources:

The comics, T.V.Guide, and Obituaries of the San Francisco Chronicle 6 April 2014

 
27 Comments

Posted by on 06/04/2014 in exercises, oulipost, poems, poetry, writing

 

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Oulipoem 5: April 5 — Tautogram

Now, this was fun.

The prompt:

Compose a poem whose words — or at least the principal ones — all begin with the same letter. The words must be sourced from your newspaper.

The poem:

 
Mafia Missions

1] Monday morning :
murder multiple
male merchants.

2] model missed
moments,mercurial
moments.

3] Make major mob
movements more more…
memorable. Measure
marked moments.

4] Make members
more     mortified?
more     meditative?
more     mournful?

5] Major measures:
marathon mastery,
meatless mornings,
meaningful marriages.

6] Mob Magazine = mystique.

7] Mob Museum.

 

Source area:

Datebook. San Francisco Chronicle. 5 April 2014

 

 
27 Comments

Posted by on 05/04/2014 in exercises, oulipost, poems, poetry, writing

 

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Oulipoem 4: April 4 — Fibonnaci Fibbing

Well, yick. I am happy for those of you who had fun. Fib did not grab me, so I went way out in bending the rules after I did one to the letter. Both are short.

The prompt:

‘In a Fibonacci sequence, each term is the sum of the two terms immediately preceding it, typically with 1 as the first term: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5,8, 13, 21, 34, 55 and so on.

Select an article from your newspaper and create a poem using the words that correspond with the numbers in the sequence. Your poem will take the form of first word, first word, second word, third word, fifth word, eighth word, thirteenth word, etc. You can continue until you’ve run out of words in your article or until you’re happy with the poem’s conclusion.’

The poem to the number 8 [I know, no staying power]:

Rob, rob
the mob:
the story that
makes guys.

LaSalle, Mick. ‘Nitwit Thieves,’ San Francisco Chronicle, 4 April, 2014. E11

Then I looked around and wondered whether I could make the Crossword work. First, I did the crossword. My Fibonacci counts used three sources: the across clues; the down clues; the resulting words. My rough draft shows the possibilities I considered.

The possibilities to the number 55 — I would have continued but ran out of words:

across, across
bridge/on
for/the/river/heron
blue/sleeping
creator
poetry/cued
chorus/a
flowery

The poem:

across,across the bridge
on river blue
the sleeping creator
cued chorus,
flowery

San Francisco Chronicle Crossword, 4 April, 2014. E11

Conclusion:

I like the to the letter one better, but that might be because the other begins to sound sappy.

Yick.

 
19 Comments

Posted by on 04/04/2014 in exercises, oulipost, poems, poetry

 

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