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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 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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Oulipoem 3: April 3 — Definitional Lit

Today’s prompt can get wild and crazy. The biggest challenge is to have the poem not sound like a dictionary [unless you want it to].

The prompt:

‘Select a single sentence from a newspaper article. Replace each meaningful word in the text [verb, noun, adjective, adverb] by its dictionary definition. Repeat this treatment on the resulting sentence, and so on, until you’ve had enough! Note that after only two such treatments with a relatively compact dictionary, even a two-word sentence can produce an accumulation of 57 words.’

The Confession:

After jotting down definitions for my words, I was taken with the list and did not continue to further devolve? evolve? the definitions. Instead I used the definitions, example sentences, and synonyms provided by the dictionary, for the words in my original phrase.

The poem and the phrase, as title:

The Big Bang Theory

I

He was a big man in his field:
the theory that there is life on other planets;
considerable in extent and intensity
important, as in power, influence, standing
(elder) generous, magnanimous,
brimming full
(large, as in size, height, width)
extravagantly boastful
conceited and unduly self-confident
(grown-up, mature,
big enough to know better)
a big liar; a big success.

On a grand scale,
of major concern,
a big problem.

II

He started with a sudden movement, a show of energy
(a sudden intense pleasure, thrill, excitement).

Loudly, abruptly, violently, she fell against the wall,
a resounding stroke, a blow: a nasty bang on the head,
a loud, explosive noise, as the discharge of a gun

A door closed noisily,

an exclamation point.

III

My theory is he never stops to think,
a speculative view, a guess.

 

The sources:

The San Francisco Chronicle T.V. Guide
Dictionary.com

 
17 Comments

Posted by on 03/04/2014 in exercises, oulipost, poems, poetry

 

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Oulipoem 2: April 2 — Lipogram

Oulipo 2 The prompt:

‘A lipogram is a text that excludes one or more letters of the alphabet. The ingenuity demanded by the restriction varies in proportion to the frequency of the letter or letters excluded. For this initial exercise, you will compose a poem using only words that can be formed from letters that are NOT found in the title of your newspaper. For example, if you are working with the Washington Post, you must avoid using words that contain the letters A, G, H, I, N, O, P, S, T and W.’

Sound daunting? I thought so, but what it is, is an insistence on thinking creatively, something I tell myself I can’t do well, therefore why try. Being part of a challenge, I have to try and after the initial cries of despair with this prompt, I had a ball.

The source:

My source newspapers are the San Francisco Chronicle or the Wall Street Journal depending where I am. The first leaves me with the vowel ‘u,’ the second with the vowel ‘i’. I decided to stick with the Chronicle and took my words from the comics, the crossword, and the horoscope.

The poem:

jump2

 

 
31 Comments

Posted by on 02/04/2014 in exercises, oulipost, poems, poetry

 

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Oulipoem 1: April 1– Quote Cento

Here we go.

Oulipo 1 The Prompt:

‘When composing a cento, poets take lines from existing poems (traditionally without any alterations) and patch them together to form a new poem. Today, create a cento using only quotes referenced in newspaper articles. For example, if a newspaper article contained the line “It was a tragedy,” commented Detective Smith, the line, “It was a tragedy,” would be available for you to use in your poem. While you can’t change anything within the quotes themselves, you may choose to break a longer quote in half or use just part of a quote as needed.

Variations:

• Purist? Challenge yourself to write your cento using only complete quotes (sentences) as they appear in your articles.

• Add an additional constraint by challenging yourself to use only quotes sourced from a single article, single newspaper page or single newspaper section.’

The Poem:

I’m Always a Dancer

There are lots of people
trying things –
we all keep trying.

This is not a race,
a West Coast storyline,
a woman weaving on a loom
on the Great Plains,
a photographic life
who secretly had
a great story to tell
locked in.

This was one piece.

All we can do
is try to trace out patterns
and the potential for meaning.

The sources:

Baker, Kenneth. ‘Big donations of American Indians works.’ San Francisco Chronicle. 1 April, 2014: E1
Carroll, Jon. There are indeed some worthy news sites.’ San Francisco Chronicle. 1 April, 2014: E6
Cole, James. Bloomberg Briefing.’ San Francisco Chronicle. 1 April, 2014: D1
Garchik, Leah. ‘Varon makes static on old boys’ network.’ San Francisco Chronicle. 1 April, 2014: E6
Hunt, Mary Ellen. ‘Obituary Marc Platt.’ San Francisco Chronicle. 1 April, 2014: C4
Whiting, Sam. ‘Turning page on secret life.’ San Francisco Chronicle. 1 April, 2014: E2

 
35 Comments

Posted by on 01/04/2014 in exercises, oulipost, poems, poetry

 

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5th Annual Big Poetry Book Giveaway

big poetry giveaway 2014

And you thought nothing could make April better. It’s that time: The Big Poetry Giveaway (which you will never see me call the same thing twice). Started by Kelli Russell Agodon, the Giveaway has steadily grown to about 50 or so bloggers who each give away 2 books [or more] to their readers. Some bloggers give away subscriptions to poetry journals. As Kelli says, The goal is to share our favourite poets with others as well as to visit different blogs and see who others are reading.  For more, visit Kelli’s site Book of Kells and sign up for her books.

For readers who are visiting because they are on the Big Poetry Giveaway trail, welcome. Briefly, I am a writer who thoroughly enjoys keeping a blog because of the wonderful people I meet. The blog has three purposes: on Tuesday I present an exercise which, hopefully, results in a poem; on Thursday I provide links and some editorial comment on various things poetic; and on Fridays I give a roundup of the week’s poetry prompt sites.

The rest of my time is spent writing poetry, submitting poetry, having poetry accepted and rejected, and working towards a chapbook.

The official start of the Big Poetry Giveaway is now and will last through April 30, 2014.

Leave a comment, in this post, saying you would like to win a book and your email [so I can get in touch with you if you are one of the winners of the draw], anytime before the end of April, and at the end of the month, I will randomly choose three winners and mail them out the books. I shall put reminders in upcoming posts.

Make sure you enter your email when you leave a comment and note which book you would be interested in winning if you do win [you can leave it up to me, but if you already have one of the books you might want to let me know]. I will pick three winners on May 1st.

I have a diverse collection for you: A volume of the Found Poetry Review because I like found poetry and I have a couple of poems in this volume; A Brittle Thing, a lovely volume of poems by Alice Owen Duggan; and my favourite book this year, I Am the Maker of all sweetened possum: poetry found in Scarlet Sister Mary, a book of erasures and blackouts set within visual contexts, by james w. moore.

Sound good? Well, put your name in the hat.

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72 Comments

Posted by on 29/03/2014 in poems, poetry

 

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