Ouliposter-Badge-Blue-300x300Today’s OULIPOST challenge:   The chimera of Homeric legend – lion’s head, goat’s body, treacherous serpent’s tail – has a less forbidding Oulipian counterpart. It is engendered as follows. Having chosen a newspaper article or other text for treatment, remove its nouns, verbs and adjectives. Replace the nouns with those taken in order from a different work, the verbs with those from a second work, the adjectives with those from a third.

Today was a good day for this, as the first piece I chose to use as my treatment text was written so lyrically in places that there was a found poem waiting for me to use!  All I had to do was strip out some of the extra that was obscuring the poem.

Choosing which articles to use for the word swaps was a bit more of a challenge, but once I had the ones I thought might work, it took very little time to decide which would be the source for nouns, which for verbs and which, adjectives.

I actually like the poem as it stands before any swap-outs! It’s a long poem, but I think it is fun to see what the starting text was, then how it turned with the new words. Here is the starting poem, based on Kelly Egan’s column on the emerald ash borer:

Death of the Hardwood Goliaths

The emerald ash borer ravages trees —
and homeowners’ bank accounts.
Ash trees are being cut
by the thousands in this city,
hardwood goliaths felled
by a half-inch beetle.

City parks now look bare,
suddenly too full of sky.
Backyards have gone barren.
And homeowners are handed
eye-popping estimates for
tree removal, followed by
near fainting spells.

The emerald ash borer has a lot to answer for.
It ate some 700 trees
in Andy Haydon Park alone.
It’s a mammoth, mammoth problem.

Ventral view of Emerald Ash Borer adult.

Ventral view of Emerald Ash Borer adult. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Should the city or province consider
a cost-sharing/tax credit program
or homeowners saddled with the expense
of removing stricken ash trees?

What happens to homeowners who
can’t afford, or simply refuse to remove
dead trees, creating a safety hazard
for themselves and neighbours?


Ottawa already has a bylaw for
private trees, a public good is served
by protecting trees on private property,
What’s the policy position when the “resource” dies?

The crown of ash tree
was in poor shape last year.
Today, at the base, there is
a pile of stripped bark in the shape
of banana peels and a trunk riddled
with tiny holes. The ash is on its deathbed.

From where we stand, five other trees on
adjoining lots look not far behind.
The city’s position:
your tree, your problem, your expense.
The city is dealing with its own mess.
Of the 300,000 trees in its inventory,
20 to 25 per cent are thought to be ash.

Once the tree is killed by this bug,
who will tend to it? To consider the urban forest
work in saving ash trees. So, city dweller,
if an ash tree falls in your forest, it falls on you.

Today was also a day to refresh my grammar such as the noun phrase. Where the noun phrases such as the emerald ash borer were replaced  I considered it as a single word, and removed all parts. If able, I replace with other noun phrases.When changing verbs, I changed the tense and voice where necessary, and removed some prepositions to strengthen the poem. This, by far, is the most time-intensive of the exercises so far, clocking in at 7 hours. Here’s the result of my attempt at the Chimera exercise:

Hogs Back Falls Aren’t Behavioural

The water level drives Rideau River —
and its highest level.
Five years have taken, selfish
by the Tuesday, in entitled flooding,
Lazy Old Ottawa South bold
by certain areas.

Flooding now winds popular,
suddenly usual of Rideau River.
Hogs Back Falls aren’t behavioural.
And Thursday hugs social Fridays
for Tuesdays, are near absolute avenues.

The river represents a lot to call for.
It depends on some worst rain.
In ice pellets? Two.
It’s a negative, scientifically-confirmed snow.

Show the city afternoon a reported water, homes
continue with the area of creeping bigger residents.
What splurging to streets who are, or simply are
amateur Fridays, have shown a well-stocked avenue
for themselves and wives?

Children already are an eye for entire water,
a second home can afford, are sides on private homes,
What obtains the high enough ground
when the “city” is brought down?

Rain permits, in insulting ways, heightened
basement fun, at the experience, is overloaded
kids of annoying puddle in the end of their canoe
and an end is out with valuable streets.
The water released on its neighbours.

From where we are, democratic principled rowboats on
critical school bus locks not far behind the flood season:
your child, your flooding, your Tuesday.
The hill guarantying to burn with its cooperative avenues
of the innovative dog in its victims. Inclusive to participatory
floods are compounded neighbourhood dog parks.

Once the water compounded is, by this day, who believes it.
To avoid the solution-focused flooded streets, make clear
in facing the rain. So, flooding, if a puddle says in your home,
it says on you.

CAS April 16, 2014


English: Lower portion of Hog's Back Falls, Ri...

English: Lower portion of Hog’s Back Falls, Rideau River, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



Egan, Kelly, Your tree, your problem, your expense Ottawa Citizen, print edition, April 16, 2014 (B1)  TEXT USED AS POEM BASE

Hurley, Meghan, Flood Watch on the Rideau, Ottawa Citizen print edition April 16, 2014 (B3) TEXT USED FOR NOUNS

Marsden, William, U.S. locks into bad government – and climate change, Ottawa Citizen print edition, April 16, 2014 (A9) TEXT USED FOR VERBS

Gormley, Shannon, Column: Politics for Millennials, Ottawa Citizen, print edition, April 16, 2014 (A11)  TEXT USED FOR ADJECTIVES



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  1. Good heavens, woman. An epic! For some reason the phrase my eye kept coming back to is ‘It’s a negative, scientifically-confirmed snow’. My brain was very happy with it!

  2. It’s interesting, I adore the closing line in each, different as they are! And i agree with Margo – you outdid yourself. At LEAST seven hours, sheesh. You did a nice job transposing phrases from one piece to another; it is at least possible to glean a narrative.

  3. The work you did on this is amazing! I really like this “City parks now look bare, / suddenly too full of sky” in the first poem and in the second, that marvelously line/title “Hogs Back Falls Aren’t Behavioural” and that whole third stanza. Nice!

    • Can only take credit for finding those lines in the first poem, as the article itself had some quite poetic writing, and was why I chose it. I too liked the Hogs Back line, and thanks again for taking the time to read!

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