Thursday, April 15, 2010

POETRY FRIDAY - Oulipo, Lipo, O, O, O

O, O, O, So many different kinds of bodies.....

Over at the Miss Rumphius Effect this week Tricia asked us to compose lipograms for the Poetry Stretch. Technically, a lipogram is "a kind of constrained writing"  in which a particular letter or group of letters is left out. Obviously, leaving out letters like x, z, or j isn't difficult. But leaving out vowels is a little harder. The most famous extended lipogram - novel length - is probably Georges Perec's  La Disparition, translated by Gilbert Adair into English as VOID - leaving out "e," the most common letter in both French and English. Imagine writing a novel without using the word "the"? (And up to the end of that last sentence, I used 43 e's!) The Oulipo group, which Perec was part of (as is Italo Calvino)  encourages a lot of this kind of word play.

So here is a much much simpler solution to the challenge - no novels for me! The only vowel I used was "o" - though I tossed in a y. Simple or not, I had fun. I love the way restrictions actually free you up from what you might produce if all you tried to do with poetry was "express your feelings." This poem expresses mine, but I wouldn't have gotten there without the restriction.Thanks again, Tricia.


knows how

to go
slow now,

to fool Doom,
to bow down -

to grow

knows not

how to grow
cool, nor cold,

knows not

to stop,
poor sot.

Poetry Friday today is being rounded up by Jules at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. Check out what other people have posted! Since I'm going to be very busy tomorrow, I'll post now - Poetry Thursday!



  1. Oh, that's great!

    I was actually working, in the scant moments I had this week, on a lipogram skipping the one vowel you used. I may get it done, but you have, again, raised the bar!

  2. fun! i think next year for national poetry month i may try to write some lipogram experiments - maybe work my way through the alphabet?

  3. Julie,

    O, what a great poem! I like your idea of using only one vowel. I'll have to try that one day.

  4. Love this, O Brilliant One. :)

  5. Gregory - write that poem and post it - the anti-O!- and let me know. I will link to it

    David - How about we do a collaborative April and I will use (as often as I can) the letter you leave out? I'm not kidding - this could be fun.

    Dueling letters!

  6. Jama - It occurs to me that with the tiniest tweak, your name is a lipogram. "Jama Rattagan" - an "a" for an "i", and there it is.

  7. The photos are poetry in motion. Perfect counterpoint to your lipogram.

  8. Julie,

    What a truly amazing poem! Congrats!

    Laura Evans
    all things poetry

  9. My body has lots of learning to do. Right now it is struggling with the grow old part.

    No, wait! It's my BRAIN that's struggling with the grow old because my body's doing it just fine, thank you.

  10. I agree, your poem is fabulous(o)! Reading it and the other results at Tricia's site inspired me to try my hand at this fun puzzle. A great challenge! Tough but fun!

  11. I love when you do these challenging forms. You are such an inspiration! Now I'm looking forward to next April already.

  12. I recently discovered a wonderful book, James Thurber's The Wonderful O (see more at was given to my son as a gift--he was a little young at 7 to appreciate it, but I adored it.

    I shall try a lipogram, just out of gladness to know that a lipogram does not involve some graphic use of body fat...