Oulipoem 1: April 1– Quote Cento

01 Apr

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.


• 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


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


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35 responses to “Oulipoem 1: April 1– Quote Cento

  1. whimsygizmo

    01/04/2014 at 12:27 pm

    Margo, can anyone play?
    Do we post here, there? Both?
    I’ve just finished mine (followed Misky over there.)

    • margo roby

      01/04/2014 at 12:30 pm

      Yes and no, de. You can play, but only on my blog, which I hope means you will play! Just post your link with each day’s post [or the ones you do].

      • whimsygizmo

        01/04/2014 at 12:33 pm

        No linky over yonder, huh? Or I’ve seen the challenge too late? Perhaps next year I will have donned my member’s jacket early enough. 😉 Thanks for the friendly place, as always, Margo!

        • margo roby

          01/04/2014 at 12:34 pm

          You saw the challenge too late. Next year I’ll shout at you!

          My pleasure, as always, de.

          • whimsygizmo

            01/04/2014 at 12:39 pm

            Thanks so much.
            I’m here:

  2. whimsygizmo

    01/04/2014 at 12:27 pm

    PS: Happy Poeming Month!

    • margo roby

      01/04/2014 at 12:31 pm

      And to you!

  3. Pingback: I Was Saved | Whimsygizmo's Blog
  4. whimsygizmo

    01/04/2014 at 12:41 pm

    Oh! THIS:
    “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.”

    This is gorgeous on its own, but then considering the whole poem is a cento…it’s like this lovely, raggamuffin little metaphor for life. This makes me infinitely happy.

    • margo roby

      01/04/2014 at 12:57 pm

      Which makes me infinitely happy! I love ‘raggamuffin little metaphor for life’– exactly.

  5. Carol Carlisle

    01/04/2014 at 12:53 pm

    Gosh are you sitting at my kitchen table reading the paper with me! I had a camera like hers when I was in high school.
    Great start indeed!

    I’ll have to try this even though I’ve already posted for today… There’s always tomorrow!!

    • margo roby

      01/04/2014 at 12:58 pm

      I am, Carol!
      Thank you and there is, indeed, always tomorrow!

  6. Carol Carlisle

    01/04/2014 at 1:00 pm

    More maybe I did that with this image from a local street

  7. Hannah Gosselin

    01/04/2014 at 2:08 pm

    Awesome start, Margo…you made this cento sing…truly, lines that could be disjointed hold together under your watch. Well done! P.S. I really enjoy the same portion that De mentions.

    And here I am, feeling too lazy too dig through the burn-pile papers…we’ll see. 😉

    • margo roby

      01/04/2014 at 4:13 pm

      Thank you :-)!

      You’ll know when a prompt grabs you. I’ll see you then at your place!

  8. Misky

    01/04/2014 at 2:40 pm

    I posted my link on FPR’s blog page, and no one removed the message .. but and however and okay and whatever …

    • margo roby

      01/04/2014 at 4:15 pm

      Grin. They are probably up to their eyebrows in stuff.


    01/04/2014 at 3:31 pm

    No way could I have done this challenge! Bravo Margo.

    • margo roby

      01/04/2014 at 4:17 pm

      Merci, ViV!


        01/04/2014 at 4:20 pm

        On the other hand, I have just submitted a collection of 20 sonnets for a competition……. Still waiting!

        • margo roby

          01/04/2014 at 4:31 pm


          I have started turning the almost one into a real one. I suppose you want rhymes…


            02/04/2014 at 1:48 am

            not necessarily – although a rhyming couplet volta would be nice.

  10. Pamela

    01/04/2014 at 4:17 pm

    Margo, love what you did here. I love centos, but cannot manage them without turning them into novellas. I didn’t realize you were offering prompts as well this year. Possibly, I might give one a try. Happy poeming, dear Margo.


    • margo roby

      01/04/2014 at 4:18 pm

      The prompts are from the Found Poetry Review’s challenge, Pamela, but I figured you all might as well join in the fun!


  11. Elizabeth Evans

    01/04/2014 at 5:19 pm

    Margo, this is great work — it reads so smoothly I would not have guessed it was from multiple sources. And that last stanza really seems to underline our current project. I love that you have people jumping in to try it too!

    • margo roby

      01/04/2014 at 5:36 pm

      Thank you, Elizabeth.

      I love that people are joining in, too.

  12. kaykuala

    01/04/2014 at 8:39 pm

    Am giving it a try, Margo! It’s here:


    • margo roby

      01/04/2014 at 11:17 pm

      I’m on my way, Hank.

  13. sonjajohanson10

    02/04/2014 at 12:16 am

    Congrats Margo! One down, 29 to go for us…

    • margo roby

      02/04/2014 at 1:05 am


  14. seingraham

    02/04/2014 at 12:32 am

    Nicely done Margo. Since there are going to be enough truly difficult challenges ahead, I decided against being a purist here. It actually worked out that it wouldn’t have proven too hard but by then I was on a roll in a different direction and had some lines from here there and everywhere (I’m trying not to undo too much this month as I have an over-full plate for some reason; oh yeah, the Edmonton poetry festival, the CV 2 contest, Poetic Asides, and this thing! Egad…)

    • margo roby

      02/04/2014 at 1:06 am

      Ah, you gluttons for punishment!

  15. Beth Ayer (@bethdayer)

    02/04/2014 at 11:40 am

    How fitting, Margo! Love it!

  16. Joshua Ganyon

    02/04/2014 at 12:57 pm

    Such a beautiful poem! I love the imagery.

    • margo roby

      02/04/2014 at 12:59 pm

      Joshua, thank you!


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