Oulipoem 9: April 9 — Headlines

09 Apr

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.


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


Tags: , , , , , , ,

21 responses to “Oulipoem 9: April 9 — Headlines

  1. barbcrary

    09/04/2014 at 4:23 pm

    Whoops. Were we supposed to make headlines NOT sound like headlines? In that regard, I tried to pick headlines that didn’t sound to much like headlines to begin with. I especially looked for SHORT, not an easy trick in the times. Which is why I went with Dining and Editorials.

    As usual, I am impressed with what you’ve done here. It’s so interesting to see the different takes that people have on what seems to be a relatively straightforward prompt.

    • margo roby

      09/04/2014 at 5:06 pm

      Short? You have short? I had a couple of headlines that were almost the article.

      I’ll be over shortly. I’m running behind today.

  2. Carol Carlisle

    09/04/2014 at 4:40 pm

    been fallowing all this too. You make better scene then the paper. Like the repeats jump the gun and stiletto death.
    I wrote this for yesterdays but didn’t publish

    Shrimp Boy

    Boyish boy.
    Boy oh, Boy!

    Shrimp Boy robs my homy
    Yo! Posy!

    Mob boss, spy?

    OH! MY!

    • margo roby

      09/04/2014 at 5:06 pm

      Hard to resist anyone that goes by Shrimp Boy!

    • barbcrary

      09/04/2014 at 5:49 pm

      I like “Shrimp Boy,” even if he robs my homy.

  3. sonjajohanson10

    09/04/2014 at 4:46 pm

    I can’t believe you wrote a pantoum, on top of all the constraints….

    • margo roby

      09/04/2014 at 5:07 pm

      Oddly, the pantoum is what made the other workable. For me it removes the constraint.

  4. Misky

    09/04/2014 at 5:03 pm

    Very impressive … and wow, in form, too! Loved this. Fun to read.

    I need a newspaper with more headlines and, in particular, more news.

  5. Pingback: Empire of the Sun | Whimsygizmo's Blog
  6. whimsygizmo

    09/04/2014 at 5:39 pm

    How did you DO that? Mine just sounds like a bunch of smooshy headlines. Yours sounds like a poem. Awesome!

    • margo roby

      09/04/2014 at 5:45 pm

      Sheer determination and adding an article where needed.

      • whimsygizmo

        09/04/2014 at 5:48 pm

        Wish I’d thought to put some pants on mine, too. πŸ˜‰
        Loved yours.

        • margo roby

          09/04/2014 at 5:51 pm


          • whimsygizmo

            09/04/2014 at 5:57 pm

            And now I must immediately begin work on a poem called “I forgot to put pants on my poem.” So you’ve inspired me twice today. πŸ˜‰

            • margo roby

              09/04/2014 at 5:58 pm

              We aim to please!

  7. sonjajohanson10

    09/04/2014 at 5:57 pm

    Pants! Ha!

    • whimsygizmo

      09/04/2014 at 6:53 pm

      This just in:

  8. Nancy Chen Long

    09/04/2014 at 6:57 pm

    Amazing that you crafted a pantoum–excellent!

  9. Hannah Gosselin

    09/04/2014 at 7:49 pm

    Wow…what a lot of work it must be to get one of these to make any kind of sense! Applauding your form choice as well, Margo! πŸ™‚

    • margo roby

      09/04/2014 at 7:52 pm

      Thank you, thank you πŸ˜‰

  10. seingraham

    10/04/2014 at 12:31 am

    Great work Margo…I never thought of pantouming one; you’re right, it’s a constraint that would give you more latitude, not less (imo).(pantouming?)Very nice.


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