The Art of OULIPO

ImageI recently was shown the art of OULIPO which is  short for the French phrase: Ouvroir de littérature potentielle; roughly translated: “workshop of potential literature”. What does this mean? It’s basically a form of writing using various forms of constraint, and it is encouraged for the writer to have fun. Here are a few examples of ones the OULIPO that I decided to try my hand at, but keep in mind that there are many different types of OULIPO (the type of OULIPO is underlined):

Alphabetic Africa

 Anaconda brushes carefully, discretely, even fluidly, gaining horrifically intense jubilation, knowing, lingering, moving noiselessly, only practicing quiet recluse so to uncoil viciously, wounding xenophobic young zebra.

Definitional Literature

“IT is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”-Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen

 “It is a verified or indisputable fact, proposition, principle, or the like, in every instance or place without exception perceived or understood as fact or truth; apprehended clearly and with certainty, that a solitary, sole or lone adult male person pertaining to the species homo sapiens in actual holding or occupancy, either with or without rights of ownership of a satisfactory in quality, quantity, or degree,position in life as determined by wealth must be in need, craving, wishing, demanding, or desiring , of a married woman.”

 Redondance poétique

Sonnet—To SciencebyEdgar Allan Poe

Science! true daughter of Old Time thou art!

Who alterest all things with thy peering eyes.

Why preyest thou thus upon the poet’s heart,

   Vulture, whose wings are dull realities?

How should he love thee? or how deem thee wise,

   Who wouldst not leave him in his wandering

To seek for treasure in the jewelled skies,

   Albeit he soared with an undaunted wing?

Hast thou not dragged Diana from her car,

   And driven the Hamadryad from the wood

To seek a shelter in some happier star?

   Hast thou not torn the Naiad from her flood,

The Elfin from the green grass, and from me

The summer dream beneath the tamarind tree?

Sonet—To Science by Edgar Allen Poe

 Thou art!

With thy peering eyes.

Upon the  poet’s heart,

Dull realities?

Deem thee wise?

In his wandering,

In the bejeweled skies

With an undaunted wing?

From her car,

From the wood,

In some happier star?

From her flood,

And from me,

Beneath the tamarind tree.


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