Tag Archives: San Francisco Chronicle

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

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


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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:

night —
drifting —

The source:

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


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:

his lips


his lips

win     I


The source:

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


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:

is for
snow balls
inside —
her world
her window
her strange

The source:

All words from Datebook, the San Francisco Chronicle


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.


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

I won’t!
I want to… wait… wait…

(a satanic chant?)




I can’t.
I can’t.



The source:

‘Datebook;’ San Francisco Chronicle 8 April 2014 E1


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

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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

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.

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

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.

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


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


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