Saturday, 13 April 2013

L is for ... LIPOGRAM


So today is the 13th of April, which must mean that it's the twelfth day of the A to Z challenge.  I've decided to share my love of writing through this challenge, and hopefully introduce people to the world of Oulipo.  I first heard about Oulipo when I was at university, and I was fascinated by their approach to writing that I decided to delve deeper into the world of experimental writing.

In a nutshell, this group of writers likes to assign constraints to their work in order to push creative boundaries.  Not only is this fun to do (the process of writing something with a constraint really does open the mind), the results are brilliant.



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L is for ... LIPOGRAM
"A text that excludes one or more letters of the alphabet." 
Oulipo Compendium ed. Harry Matthews & Alastiar Brotchie (London: Atlas Press, 2005) page 178.
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When I was at university I was taught by Phil Terry, who was the person who introduced me to Oulipo.  I read his Book of Bachelors (a collection of lipogrammatic short stories) and was inspired to write my own.  I don't think my thesaurus has been used as much as when I was writing these.  Excerpts from these stories can be found here, here, and here.

Here's a quick lipogrammatic poem.

abcdefhijklmnopqrstuvwxyz

A poem void -
it lacks a vital implement
but is not annoyed
when it partakes in experiment
with a zealous temperament

Universally enjoyed
and individually content
One letter unemployed -
it boasts fractional torment
without quirky accent


17 comments:

  1. Nice to "see" the face behind the poem.

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  2. Hello, Rebeccah! This sounds really cool. I write poetry for fun, and I like using specific forms and structures to challenge my creativity. I like the idea of doing something similar for fiction! Thanks for sharing. :)

    Happy A to Z-ing! from Laura Marcella @ Wavy Lines

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    1. Thank you. Glad you liked it. It isn't easy, but it is worth it :)

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  3. How delightful! Though I must admit I'm rather attached to all the letters of the alphabet ;-)

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    1. Me too. That's why I'm doing the A-Z challenge! :D

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  4. That is such a cool idea. Not sure which letter I'd leave out though - I'm guessing some might be easier than others.

    Short Story Ideas &
    Just Ermie

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    1. Thank you. You're right; some are easier than others, but you'd be surprised. Obviously, writing without E is super difficult, and writing without Z is fairly easy. But it makes you realise which letters we use a lot without noticing.

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  5. Nice to see ya.. and that's a cool post :)

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  6. That`s really neat! My family and I used to play a car game that you couldn`t use a letter when talking until you saw it on a sign. It`s really difficult! When I start writing/talking with the intent to leave out a letter, it seems every single word with that letter in it comes to my head.

    -Fellow A to Z-er

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    1. Thank you. That's a cool game to play. I might have to start doing that. But you're right, when you try to avoid using a letter, you end up thinking only of words that contain that word!

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  7. Oh my gosh, have you read Ella Minnow Pea? It's about a town statue with some quote and one of the letters falls off. The town council declares that no one can use that letter anymore, and the letter disappears from the book. Then more letters fall off, and those letters are banned and also disappear from the book, and on and on. It is fantastic! You took me down memory lane with this one :)

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    1. Ella Minnow Pea is one of my favourite books. It's so brilliantly clever. I tried to read Mark Dunn's "Ibid" (a story written entirely of footnotes) but it's quite difficult to get into.

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  8. I just nominated you for a Liebster Award! Find out more about the award, and how to receive it, by clicking on the link. :)

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    1. I should have said: I just nominated you for an exciting Liebster Award! You can quickly find out more about the award, and how to receive it, by clicking on the link above. No need to be overzealous. You can take your time. :)

      -- No P! :)

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    2. Thank you. I've already done one Liebster Award thing, but I will gladly do it again :D I'll save it until May though, as the A-Z challenge is keeping me busy.

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