I don’t normally feel the need to explain my writing, and would rather let it stand by myself. This term, however, we’re doing an experimental writing workshop so …
This week’s exercise is based on Oulipo, a group of writers, originating in France who write ‘with constraints’ and impose rules on what they do. What’s the point? Well, just in doing these exercises, I’ve found my vocab challenged and I’ve been pushed out of using phrases and structures that I didn’t realise i was stuck in. See what you think …
A Belle Absente – a love poem, where you omit the letters of the name of the beloved. In this one, the first letter is omitted from all the words in the first line, the second from the second line and so on. I also entirely omit z.
Belle absente – no z
No hurry, we grow near, contrived ex-juncture, back-bound flame, leap the oblique.
No speed, a joyful glimpse of you enough, you bring me, wing me, my calyx, manqué, lack-driven.
No rush, pack foot forward, our ghost visits, filling my body, mixing my quick spirit, jostling my mind.
We join, step by slow-paced step like we are at no time apart, axel spinning, our faded quest near done.
We meet, quest-vexed, joke, hug, fall, candy touch, you pour yourself over my body.
In gaps, in want, in sound-lack, box-quick form of you, my Hajj, your vow, our void.
A circuit – a poem which can be read in different directions. The most amazing version of this is the book, Hundred Thousand Billion poems.
This is a simple ‘table’ – read along the lines or down the columns.
Asking I open my mouth I hold out my hands
Choosing Head first I follow my heart
Listening I use my ears Blood circulates, I breathe
Writing From eye to brain From head to heart to hand to pen
Publishing I make my mark I fall.
There’s still plenty of work to do on these two poems, but I can already see how the constraints challenge my vocabulary, and force me to find fresh ways to describe an experience.