Oulipoem 14: April 14 — Article to Ads, Column Inches

14 Apr

I can be a little slow. Admittedly, my focus has been divided a trifle, the past two weeks. There are many, many talented poets writing in the Oulipo Challenge, official and un-! Please wander over to their site on the Found Poetry Review and check a few out each day. For the unofficials, check the links in my comments, each day. There have been so many wonderfully creative poems.

The prompt:

‘Refer to the advertising section or the classifieds in your source newspaper. Create a poem by replacing all of the nouns in your chosen ad segment or classified listing with nouns from one article in the same newspaper. You may use multiple ads/classifieds, presented in the order of your choosing.’ Today’s prompt was a challenge until I saw Mildred’s response. Then, I knew what I wanted to do or, at least, had a direction.

The process:

Although I am back in Atlanta, my paper, the Wall Street Journal, lacks a few things, like classifieds, so I headed for the San Francisco Chronicle online to find what I needed: Horoscopes + Classifieds, a marriage made in, well… I ended up with something other than I started. I had a column of phrases from the classifieds and a column of nouns from the horoscope. I tried matching them to tell a story, but when I noticed a shape, I added a constraint: The lines had to lead up to and away from the longest line. That’s when I ended up with something I like better than the first something.

The poem:

[This is what I had when I went to open my document in Notepad, just now: no file… anywhere. I searched. I don’t have the heart, or the energy, to recreate the poem, so am not going to, but it did occur to me that I needed to post this for links to be left! So, write poems. Post poems. Leave links. I shall retire to a corner and weep piteously. Piteously, I tell you.]


Where is     life?

lost      chapter
missing      page
searching for      faith
looking for       history
looking to      old habits
trying to locate     a map
desperately seeking      balance
in search of     a  translation
looking to find      changes
looking for an old      risk
hoping to find      nerves
if you know      people

I loved you     once

I didn’t even get your      name
please call, I miss     stars

truly, madly, deeply,


The source:

HOROSCOPE for Monday, 4/14/14 by Christopher Renstrom – SFGate


Posted by on 14/04/2014 in exercises, oulipost, poems, poetry, writing


Tags: , , , ,

15 responses to “Oulipoem 14: April 14 — Article to Ads, Column Inches

  1. Misky

    14/04/2014 at 1:14 pm

    Oh dear. Maybe you’ll find it. Use the windows search feature. Mine is here.

    • margo roby

      14/04/2014 at 1:20 pm

      The first thing I did. It’s really odd. I had saved it. Even if I hadn’t it would have queried me.

      • Misky

        14/04/2014 at 5:22 pm

        Did you try searching based on a phrase in your poem?

  2. seingraham

    14/04/2014 at 1:36 pm

    Oh margo…that so sucks…

    • margo roby

      14/04/2014 at 1:48 pm

      Think if had been the sestina, Sharon! I shall save everywhere.

  3. b_young

    14/04/2014 at 2:55 pm

    Woeful. Notepad is a heartless critic.

  4. lynnie gobeille

    14/04/2014 at 3:51 pm

    i can not believe i am writing this to you (admitting in print – no less – that i have never written one ) – but i have begun my first attempt at a “found poem” inspired by your marvelous thoughts Ms Roby. txs- lg

    • margo roby

      14/04/2014 at 5:53 pm

      Lynnie! How lovely. i hope you enjoy it as much as I have and do. My particular strengths lie in remixing and centos, but these exercises have been an interesting stretch!

  5. whimsygizmo

    14/04/2014 at 8:48 pm

    Oh, NO! Weeping for you, openly. Sending wine. Ugh.
    I should have drank some of it before writing mine, I think:

    • margo roby

      15/04/2014 at 7:45 am

      Wine and weeping MUCH appreciated.

  6. sonjajohanson10

    17/04/2014 at 11:56 am

    I am SO glad you found this! And how funny that it has lost and found as its topic. 😉 this is a keeper, very wistful, and I would never guess that it is a substitution piece.

    • margo roby

      17/04/2014 at 12:41 pm

      I just realised that in replying to each comment, I make you take the time to read… rather like the definitional poem expanding. Thank you for all your comments. I enjoyed and enjoy them.


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