Today’s Oulipost challenge: Write a sonnet sourced from lines found in newspaper articles. You may choose your own sonnet type. ( Examples here) and should feel free to be creative with the rules. One known Oulipo variation is “sonnets of variable length,” in which one must compose a sonnet in which the lines are either as short as possible or as long as possible.

I thought at first about doing a word sonnet, but once I had chosen the article I planned to use, that didn’t seem like it would work quite the way I wanted. I read briefly about Berrigan’s sonnets and decided to go with a very loose variation. I also went with 3 quatrains and a closing couplet.


To Learn More About Swooping
—Variation on a Berrigan Sonnet

English: A young White-backed Vulture in Mikum...

English: A young White-backed Vulture in Mikumi National Park (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


One more drop into the sky,
that first dive from the heavens:
a cobalt breeze, a soft blue sky.
Free fall emotion in love again.

Practising three hours a day
at too steep an angle, he let go
to learn more about swooping, fast
and low, too close to the ground.

A chain two feet too long
can change a man’s character
in a cloud of dust
two storeys into the air.

To mourn the world,
he’s learning to drive.

CAS April 12, 2014


  • Source: Skydiver makes peace with the heavens, By Andrew Duffy, Ottawa Citizen PRINT EDITION April 12, 2014 (E1)
English: Shakespeare's sonnet 1

English: Shakespeare’s sonnet 1 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Ouliposter-Badge-Plum-300x300A univocalic text is one written with a single vowel. It is consequently a lipogram in all the other vowels. If he had been univocally minded, Hamlet might have exclaimed, “Be? Never be? Perplexed quest: seek the secret!” All words used must be sourced from your newspaper.



For the univocalism exercise I chose two articles, and two vowels, O and E, selecting all words in both pieces that contained either vowel.

Here are the words I have to work with:


on, of, cool, from, or, to, to, CO2, how, to, cool, cool, CO2, from, or, to, con, would, fool, to, from, so, slowly, on, from, both, should, of, tool, to, to, on, for, of, CO2, from, on, should, also, could, from, or, orb, to, short, of, pro, con, to, of, doubts, of, of, oxford, worth, to, to, of, among, of, to, of, of, on, now, work, on, for, to, on, to, to, worry, would, world’s, from, to, low, to, hold, not, work, of, how, to, pro, CO2, from, to, to, of, don’t, or, no, knows, to, or, to, to, cool, from, known, or, on, or, to, grow, crops, CO2, from, pow, to, CO2, CO2, from, only, opt, drop, long, cord, to, on, alcohol, ago, alcohol, for, down, from, of, to, port, drop, to, drop, con, long, of, to, drop, to, of, sold, also, to, of, sold, to, to, from, son, of, of, stood, from, on, of, alcohol, from, opt, from, of, from, for, to, down from, son, son.


sheets, germ, sheets, keep, the, melt, the, reflect, the, net, net, reflect, expert, press, week, whether, be, the, keep, check, the, week, the, the, the, every, reflect, seen, even, express, present, there, level, these, Steve, he, get, better, sense, whether, there’s, these, they, be, they, new, set, be, references, they be, energy, energy, seems, ever, rent, be, levels, the tech, yet, whether, they, tech, be, tech, effect, tech, them, effect, the, the, tested, energy, the, then, them, the, then, deep, net, effect, beer, term, trend, less, beer, spent, the, per cent, beer, the, the, ended, per cent, beer, fell, per cent, beer, per cent, the, term, trend, beer, the, per, per, beer, fell, grew, per cent, beer, fell, per cent, beer, per cent, were, per cent, the, per cent, the per cent, per, per, per, per, the, beer, per cent, the, term, per cent, per cent the, netted, the, end.

Here are my draft Univocalism poems, INCLUDING the titles, although I stretched a bit using numbers for the first one:


Alcohol Sold 2013 = $21B

ball-and-stick model of CO2: carbon dioxide

ball-and-stick model of CO2: carbon dioxide (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Crops grow for alcohol
world ports drop—
sold from son to son.

How to cool?
CO2, would work
to cool.

Sons worry,
doubt worth,
opt for alcohol
drop down
from cool to fool—



A Kranz (wreath) of Kölsch beer.

A Kranz (wreath) of Kölsch beer. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Keep the sheets.
Check the germ level.

The net effect every week
seems better whether beer per cent fell.

The term trend references less energy spent,
the deep expert levels set.

The beer tech, tested,
netted end present germ energy effect.

– CAS April 11, 2014



(Unfortunately I am unable to show the text I used to select my words, as neither chosen articles appear in the digital edition, only in print. CAS)

 Canadian Press, The Canadians are buying more wine, less beer, Ottawa Citizen print edition, April 11, 2014 F1

 Ritter, Karl The Associated Press, A cool idea or mad science? Ottawa Citizen, print edition, April 11, 2014 C5

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Ouliposter-Badge-Plum-300x300Today’s constraint is a variation of Jean Queval’s “Cent Ons”.

The instructions are quite simple: Compose a poem whose body is sourced from article headlines in your newspaper.

I used the print edition of this morning’s paper, putting together a list of headlines, moving from section to section, but as I went, already phrases were waving little flags “Pick me! Pick me!” so that by the time I was finished the list, I had highlighted more than enough to create my poem.

Even in my choice of subject, I was already outside the box, which was wonderful, although I never imagined ever writing a poem about this:


Zeroing in, a Zombie Sonnet

Tensions sweep eastern cities.
The politics of fear in Southern Ontario’s
undead playground, a bloody rivalry Cold War,
a delusion of safety zones.

Inuit seal hunt zombie MPs.
Exciting first-round matchups:
Trailer Park Boys duel Ford’s*
shifting tectonic plates.

Body parts grown by UK researchers
attract diplomats, tit-for-tat frantic farce
on a cold April day at the centre of the campaign
to end death. Humane Society’s ok with it.

Lest we forget,
it’s all about the tulips.

Carol A. Stephen,

April 9, 2014

*Ford’s refers of course to Toronto’s notorious Rob Ford.

English: Zombies

English: Zombies (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Headlines used:

  • Lest We Forget Vimy Ridge
    Province’s shifting tectonic plates
    Death of separatism? It’s a delusion
    Arrest made in stabbing death
    Russia, Canada duel with diplomats
    Zeroing in on the zombie safety zones
    Southern Ontario undead playground, tongue-in-cheek study says
    Humane Society ok with Inuit seal hunt
    Tit-for-tat diplomatic expulsions not common since Cold War ended
    Ben Johnson, Trailer Park Boy joins Ford’s re-election campaign
    Body parts grown by UK researchers at centre of campaign to attract investment
    Tensions sweep eastern cities
    Plenty of potentially exciting first-round matchups
    The politics of fear
    On a cold April day
    Traditional playoff pairing led to a bloody rivalry
    It’s all about the tulips
    Actors deliver a frantic farce

If you want to read more about Oulipo, click on this link to read Into the Maze: Oulipo at Poets. org, the Academy of American Poets website.

If you wish to read poems from other Ouliposters, you will find them here: http://www.foundpoetryreview.com/blog/oulipost-9-headlines-variation-of-jean-quevals-cent-ons/#comment-1787

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This constraint is also known as Beautiful Inlaw.

Select a name from one of your newspaper articles, famous or not. Compose a poem using only words that can be made from the letters in that person’s name. For example, if you selected “John Travolta,” you may only use words that can be made from the letters A, J, H, L, N, O, R, T and V.

The use of web-based tools is highly encouraged to help uncover different words that can be made from your letters of choice. One tool you might consider is the Scrabble Word Finder.

Having struggled earlier on with trying to lipogram words into a poem without using any vowel but U, my eye was caught immediately by a name of the sports page, Craig Anderson, who plays goal for the Ottawa Senators. However, two articles later I still ended up with a very short poem.  So many nice words that wanted a “T”  or a “G”. I wasn’t left with very many “meaty” words, due  to the constraint of selecting from the newspaper, of course.  Few of the wonderful words Scrabble Word Finder provided were included. I used Doug Luman’s lipogram generator, as I have had problems with the various tools including his beau present, but the lipogram provided me with a usable base, all I had to do was eliminate the straggler words that didn’t fit my selected letters.

English: Spartacat, official mascot of the Ott...

English: Spartacat, official mascot of the Ottawa Senators. Note that the picture has been cropped from original. Français : Spartacat, macotte officielle des Sénateurs d’Ottawa. L’image a été recadrée à partir de l’originale (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here is the list of words I was able to use:

Craig car Canadian came ion can can can Consider can rear road round Red Red received received remain rain right rear road round Red Red received received rain a and and and and and an a and a and a a and a and a and and a and As a and a a and and are a a a a and a and and a and and and and and an a and a and a a and a and a and and a and As a and a a and and are a a a a and a and and and in in In in in is is in I is I I I is I ice in in in a and and and and and an a and a and a a and a and a need no no need no do do do one one end rear road Red Red received received rear road round Red Red received received season see season so so season second season said season said season said season s ions said ion season says s season season said on order on on need no need no no

second article: is son, a in an in in and and son, red and
s is a as in 1,000 in a 27 in residence
’s is and noses as and 35 cries. One . dance, a 21-


The resulting poem:

Second Season Canadian Can-Can

Consider Canadian second season rain
round craigs, on rear roads.

Ice can remain in residence
on 1000 red noses,

in 35 cries,
and as one dance.

Carol A. Stephen
April 8, 2014


Ice Storm, Carleton PlaceSOURCES:

  • Warren, Ken, Anderson tries to look ahead, not back at the lost season Ottawa Citizen, April 8, 2014, (B1)
  • Rayner, Gordon, Prince George begins his royal duty in New Zealand, Ottawa Citizen April 8 print edition (A6 from UK Telegraph story)


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