Wednesday 17 April 2013


So today is the 17th of April, which must mean that it's the fifteenth 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.


"Oscillatory poems are minimal works based on the principle of opposition or complimentary. ... Each poem is a quatrain; each line contains a noun followed by an adjective (or past participle).  Both nouns and adjectives follow in parallel the pattern
  1. word
  2. antonym of word
  3. synonym of word
  4. antonym of word."
Oulipo Compendium ed. Harry Matthews & Alastiar Brotchie (London: Atlas Press, 2005) page 79 & 80.

Here is my attempt.  I will admit that I found this one the most difficult to do, and I'm still not sure if I've done it right.  I have followed the example in the book, so I hope I'm on the right track!

Ah - I think I know where I was going wrong.  The information states that it's a "noun followed by an adjective" which it would be in French (they would say 'un ciel bleu' [a sky blue] rather than 'a blue sky').  So in English, these oscillatory poems would be an adjective followed by a noun.  Phew, that took a while to work out!

dark trouble
illuminated contentment
dim disorder
radiant ease

tuneful voice
cacophonous silence
melodic call
discordant suppression

certain endurance
doubtful irregularity
assured patience
unfixed interruption

feeble dream
healthy reality
decrepit fantasy
strong existence

If you want to give this a go (and I think you should), you can find synonyms and antonyms of words at


  1. I have never heard of oscillatory poetry before today, but it seems quite beautiful. I shall have to remember this one. Thanks for the explanation of the French to English, that could have been most confusing. :)

    Tasha's Thinkings

    1. Thank you :) Yeah, I got confused with the noun/adjective thing, because the information didn't match the example. But I got there in the end!

  2. Another great creative exercise!

    I nominated you for The Leibster Blog Award, but you have to visit me again to find out all about it!


    1. Thank you very much. And thank you for the award. If you don't mind, I'll wait until April (and this challenge) is over before I get on with that, as the whole A-Z thing is keeping me busy!

  3. Yet another new information. :)

  4. I have never heard of oscillatory poetry before either, but it seems quite interesting and beautiful. Thanks for sharing and enlightening me.

    Sherrey at Healing by Writing

    1. Thank you. Sometimes the simplest things can be the most beautiful.

  5. wonderful post
    lousy withholding
    superb report
    rotten displacement


    #atozchallenge, Kristen's blog:

    1. *high five* for another awesome comment. Thank you :D