Today’s prompt goes back once again to the Found Poetry Review’s blog, and the post by Daniel Levin Becker, who is a member of the French Oulipo group of writers and mathematicians. He gives us his variation on an Oulipo form, the petit récapitul portatif. It’s a rather lengthy set of instructions, but actually quite straightforward as you begin to work with it. Time constraints today (income tax deadline approaching!) meant I went with the first things that each random article suggested to me but this method definitely will be one I revisit. You can view the full post and links to other poems here
1. The poem consists of 10 lines total, in a 3-3-3-1 stanza distribution.
2. Each line is 9 syllables long. No meter is required.
3. The lines do not rhyme.
4. After each three-line stanza comes a list, in parentheses, of three words taken from one of each of the lines in the preceding stanza.
5. The poem is dated and addressed to a specific person (someone you know or someone you don’t).
Here’s how we’ll use it:
6. This link will direct you to a Wikipedia article in English, chosen at random. (You can also click on the fifth link down on the lefthand toolbar of any article.)
7. The first line in your poem will correspond to the first random article you see, the second to the second, and so on for all ten lines.
7a. You may replace up to two of your random articles with either a new random article or an article one click away from the original.
8. You may interpret “correspond to” however you choose. You can quote the article, paraphrase it, comment on it, take impressionistic inspiration from it, or what have you.
9. You may open ten random articles at once and plan out the content of your PRP, though still observing the order in which you opened them; you may also complete each line of the poem before allowing yourself to open the next article.
10. If you so choose, hyperlink each line—or the list word taken from it—to the corresponding article.
I was surprised at how the articles for the first few searches were about people and places so close to home, starting with a French school in Ottawa. In selecting articles I did make two substitutions where they were really short stubs and going far afield from where I was going with the poem. (Croatian nobility from the 1200’s for instance). Starting then, with Ottawa, I considered each article for how they might tie in some way to the city. Rather than dedicate to a single person, this piece is addressed to my Ottawa poetry group, The Field Stone Poets, Sylvia Adams, Gill Foss, Glenn Kletke, (sometimes Karen Massey) and Margaret Zielinski. (The group is led by Sylvia Adams.)
April 23, 2016
for The Field Stone Poets
(Ottawa, times, suits)
(Scots, bridge, hate)
(Japanese, white-frosted, smart)
Missed information spreading world-wide.
Carol A. Stephen
April 23, 2016