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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No-Comfort Zone Week ending Oct. 28 2012

This week’s challenges have  been split between self-care and enjoying week 7 of Modern & Contemporary American Poetry over o the Coursera platform.


It’s week two of the CHIP program, and the constant weather changes have been playing with my aches ‘n pains and sinuses. I’ve been learning a new relaxation technique so I am hoping that will help me refocus away from that. I had started taking some supplements but they seemed to just give me more issues, so stopped again. It isn’t good to self-diagnose anyway. So let’s forget those and think about MODPO!



This week we studied the New York School, looking at Frank O’Hara’s The Day Lady Died and A Step Away from Them. These were an intro into O’Hara in preparation for Assignment 3, to do a close reading of Why I Am Not a Painter. Not really happy with my essay, but it is done, and that is the main thing.


We also looked at a funny pastiche by Kenneth Koch Variations on a Theme by William Carlos Williams which lead to a discussion forum on creating our own pastiche on this or one of the other or all of the poems we’ve looked at over the last seven weeks. This made for some really fun and strange offerings, with some poems a mix of many poets and styles parodied. (I’m not sure where some folks find the time to write so many of these or to follow so many of the discussions. This week I had to concentrate on the assignment as I tried to decipher the difference between anti-narrative and alt-narrative.Not sure I got it right.)


We also looked at Barbara Guest‘s 20 before considering Some Trees and Hard Times by John Ashbery.  We also met Ted Berrigan in his poem, 3 Pages, and finished up with Bernadette Mayer‘s Invasion of the Body Snatchers.



Next week’s intro and discussion forums are now up, and tomorrow we start looking at the essays we are assigned to evaluate. And we do the intro week to Language poetry, starting with Ron Silliman who was here in Ottawa in March for a reading and workshop at A B Series. Ron was a fascinating speaker with an incredible memory for all things poetry. He even keeps up on the Canadian scene, which is great.  We’ll also look at Lyn Hejinian, Bob Perelman, Charles Bernstein, Susan Howe, and revisit Rae Armantrout before concluding with more of Silliman.


Looks like another great week of poetry immersion!



Still hanging in with the ModPo course at the end of week six. This week we read and/or listened to work from The Beats. Allen Ginsberg (Howl Part 1), a series of Jack Kerouac writings , including Essentials of Spontaneous Prose and Belief & Technique for Modern Prose. We listened to Robert Creeley‘s I Know A Man (5 versions)

Robert Creeley by Elsa Dorfman. Portrait taken...

and to a discussion of it on Poem Talk.  Although we didn’t read Anne Waldman ‘s poem, Rogue State, we did watch it on YouTube. And we read Incident by Amiri Baraka.

English: Jack Kerouac by photographer Tom Palu...

It is always interesting to watch the discussion videos with Al Filreis and his TAs, as they talk about their own interpretations. Sometimes, people on the forums agree with them, other times there are new interpretations. With more than thirty thousand students, there are a lot of different readings!

Anne Waldman and Allen Ginsberg

There was some controversy (still!) over the writings and performances of the Beats: their use of language, their seemingly unconnected lines and phrases. There were still people offended by Howl. And those who found Kerouac’s spontaneous riffs really quite difficult.

There was also some outside controversy when Minnesota announced a ban on courses being offered to Minnesota students from out-of-state. But that seems to have been resolved in favour of the courses being allowed. Thank goodness!

Next week, tomorrow actually, we begin Week seven, a look at the New York School.  I see poems by Frank O’Hara, John Ashbery, Ted Berrigan, Kenneth Koch and Bernadette Mayer on the syllabus. And the third of four assignments.

This has been a fantastic experience, and we are told that we will have access to the course site for a year afterward, and there is a lot of interest in forming a ModPo Alumni. I wonder what I will do with so much time on my hands, though, when the ten weeks is up?

Upcoming Tree Reading Series July 24

This item was omitted from the Notices, info and photo comes from the Tree post here:
This event takes place at Arts Court, 2 Daly Avenue, Ottawa
The Ottawa Arts Court. Formerly the Carleton C...

The Ottawa Arts Court. Formerly the Carleton County Courthouse, the building now serves as Ottawa’s municipal arts centre. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Tuesday  July 24 6:45pm Free Workshop  Stuart Ross on After Joe Brainard
A workshop sparked by the literary works of the late and magnificent Joe Brainard, on the occasion of the release of his Collected Writings and the re-release of the legendary Bean Spasms collaboration between Joe, Ron Pagett, and Ted Berrigan.
8:00 p.m.  Readings Dead Poet Reading, Open Mic and this Featured Reader:

Jacob McArthur Mooney

Jacob was the winner of 2012 Poem of the Year contest from Ottawa’s own Arc Magazine.More >