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Image: mathedconcepts.com

Image: mathedconcepts.com

The OULIPO

Whatever am I doing—bringing a blend of math and poetry to the bar? I, who carry a calculator in my golf bag! Really, I do. But in scanning the Internet for a new poetry form I came across the OULIPO, a form that does precisely that.

Though poetry and mathematics might seem to be incompatible areas of study, the OULIPO connects them. Founded in 1960 by French mathematician Francois de Lionnais and writer Raymond Queneau, Ouvroir de Litterature Potentielle (OULIPO), or Workshop of Potential Literature, investigates the possibilities of verse written using a structural formula. The creators felt that there was potential to be discovered in poetry written within a framework or formula and that, done playfully, the outcomes could be endless.

Image: letsplaymath.com

Image: letsplaymath.com

One of the most popular OULIPO formulas is “N+7.” The writer takes a poem already in existence and substitutes each of the poem’s nouns with the noun appearing seven nouns away in the dictionary. A derivative of the original or a noun that shares similar root doesn’t count. It needs to be a completely different word. I see the potential for a few good laughs and/or some really creative experimental poems.

Image: gq.com

Image: gq.com

For today’s prompt, I invite you to choose one of your own poems, write a new one or even choose one in the public domain, grab a dictionary and have at it. (Results could differ depending on the dictionary you use. For those of you left brained (read “More balanced than I”) poets, I invite you to create your own math-based form. If you do, please share your formula. If the poem you chose isn’t too long, feel free to include the original poem or post a Link to the original.

If you would like to join us, but are not sure how to link up—here’s the drill:

Write your poem;

• Post it on your blog or website;
• Click on Mr. Linky at the bottom of this post and enter your name and the direct URL of your post.
• Come to the pub and visit other poets’ work. Take time to comment, please.
• While you’re at it, enjoy the process.
• It would be stellar if you could invite a poet who doesn’t visit the pub on a regular basis to join us…put it out there on your social media sites.
 

For dVerse Meeting the Bar, this is Victoria—dictionary in hand. 10 fingers, no calculator.