Oulipost #11

The catch up is a cheat, as is using an article dated yesterday on the web but in today’s paper. My excuse? The paper wasn’t delivered yesterday (or was stolen). Also, it was Shabbos (still is, nonetheless). here is a univocal poem. All the words must be sourced from the paper; I tried to keep it to just one article. The words in hard brackets were imported from other stories. I chose the “o” from the best word in the headline. It’s not univocal but, in keeping with this afternoon’s secondary theme, I cheated. (But just for the title.)




Do old loves block

Growth? Odd [how]

most [don’t] long.

Or work to show

Only now. Not So. Not

How to love lost,

love lots, love most, love

worlds. Or, who knows? 


Johnson, Kirk, “Bookstores in Seattle Soar, and Embrace an Old Nemesis: Amazon.com,” NY Times, 11 April 2014. 


Oulipost #10: Snowball

On this first day of real spring I am struggling with “snowball” on many levels. But the show must go on: 

















Kershner, Israel, “Israel Says It Is ‘Deeply Disappointed’ by Kerry’s Remarks, New York Times, 10 April 2014

Oulipost #9: Headlines

The prompt: Compose a poem whose body is sourced from the headlines in your newspaper. 


I used most of the headlines in the front section of today’s Times. Paper edition. Plus an ad for Land’s End. 


A Deal with the Devil, Or, Poachers Attack Beloved Elders


Beloved Elders, Panicked

Pension Woes Are Stolen Scare

Tactics. The Older

Deplore Capital’s Tearful Drama.


No Work, No Base,

No Advocate, No Share,

No Limit Risks, No Ease.


Details Settle: Banks Get Big Share

(Thieves.) Rounding Up the Charges,

No Review. The bigger Project,

Better Bomb. Baby, Cancel California, Illinois, North Carolina.

Say, A varied life, failed. Made to Work. More. Better.


the headlines:

Banks Ordered To Add Capital To Limit Risks

Tearful Drama as Pistorius Says He Panicked

Sliver of Medicare Doctors Get Big Share of Payouts

Two More Sets of Signals Detected, Australian Officials Say

A Deal with the Devil

Rounding Up Suspects, Pakistan Charges a Baby

Parti Quebecois Failed to Renew Mandate, Analysts Say

Bomb on Train In Pakistan is Fatal to 14

Cuba Social Media Project Was No Plot, Agency Says

Among Ukraine’s Jews, the Bigger Worry Is Putin, Not Progroms

Lands End Made to Work

Poachers Attack Beloved Elders of California, Its Redwoods

Brandeis Cancels Plan to Give Honorary Degree to Rights Advocate, a Critic of Islam

Marine Shoots Fellow Guard at North Carolina Base

California: No Charge for Ocean Rescue

Illinoi Moves to Ease Chicago Pension Woes

What Would Lyndon Johnson Do?

Speaking at Rights Event, Carter Deplores Disparity

Democrats Use Pay Issue In Bid for Women’s Vote

Notes Found in Review of Police Work Could Exonerate 2 Convicted in Killing

For Car Thieves, the Older and Heavier the Ride, the Better

DeBlasio Picks Immigrants To Lead Two City Agencies

Details of Sharpton’s FBI Work Show a Varied Life

City Settles Lawsuit by Detective Called a ‘Rat’

Closing Ports to Stolen Fish

Global Warming Scare Tactics

Oulipost #8: Beautiful Inlaw

The prompt: Make a poem out of only the letters of a name in your article. Much like other high-stakes endeavors, it’s all about picking the right person.

Johnson, Luke, “Elizabeth Warren Picks a Fight with Paul Ryan,” The Huffington Post 7 April 2014.

Blitz the hater, Liz.

He, wealthier, lazier.

Bait, then blaze and rail and warn.

Beneath the bleat, the blather

Wither are we? The

Nadir or the zenith?

Or neither? We tire,

We want heart, want brawn.

Want renewal, relit. With Liz

We’ll win. He’ll relent. Wanna bet?

Oulipost #7: two n+7s

Well, sometimes we leapfrog. Happy to be back. The prompt is, n+7: replace every noun in your passage with the seventh after it in the dictionary. On offer was a handy generator, and I happily took full advantage of its modern power. 



Isherwood, Charles, “Plugging Away at Living, Come What May,” New York Times, 7 April 2014. 

the original is a pull quote from the paper edition:

The quirky conversation flows,

As the specter of death awaits.


Quirky, that convertor

some speedometer of

debit deepening.  



Rosenberg, Matthew and Jawad Sukhanyar, “Early Tallies Indicating Afghan Vote A Success,” New York TImes, 7 April 2014. 

High turnout would represent a sharp public repudiation of the Taliban, which had pledged to disrupt the election and had warned Afghans to stay away from the polls.


High turret,

Sharp public

[Null result again]

What disrupts



[from small]

Pops, Stay. Please, stay.


Oulipost #1: Invest in authority, or, “Structural changes are a possibility”

for Selah Cohort 12


Done in by a relent-

less desire

to expand,


the most power

ful testaments to…peril

…are not found.


Attention has only

Begun to focus

On the …financial model

As a root problem.



Lots of challenging

And difficult things

Have been under-

Taken to great advantage,

Or sometimes to not

Great advantage.


One potential

Remedy would be

Placing the executive director.

And making



[and] telling Dracula he’s

got to leave the blood



Flegenheimer, Matt, “Report Traces Port Authority’s Flaws to a Crumbling Business Model,” New York Times, 1 April 2014.


Inspired by my grad school friend poet Nancy Long, I’ve signed up to craft found poems from the headlines every day in April, National Poetry Month. To get started, we answer some interview questions. 

What excites you about Oulipost?

The headline focus. Writing good, evocative headlines to fit is good training for a poet. Plus I like the outward outlook drawing on headlines will promote. Thus far in my extremely short time writing poems, the poems have been drawn from my own experience — much like most of my literary nonfiction. I’m excited about the poetry of hard politics, hard news — and this wacky weather that April is sure to keep bringing. I live in a great newspaper town, complete with competing tabloids which will offer so much poetry possibility.

Plus — poems every day! That’s way better for a person than vitamins. 

What (if anything) scares you about Oulipost?

Poems! Every day. Also, I haven’t really published anything here before — self publishing sorta scares me. 

Have you written experimental or found poetry before?

Nope. Can’t get worse! 

What newspaper will serve as your source text? 

I’m a daily devotee of the Grey Lady, but I’m definitely not monogamous. I plan to draw on the Daily News and sometimes the New York Post (especially the Sports sections). I also travel a lot and April is no exception so I’ll sample the local offerings and see what makes its way in.

Who is your spirit Oulipian?

Nancy Long got me into this so I gotta pick her! Plus I already know that I love her work and, especially, her amazing spirit.  I’m reassured to see some familiar names and looking forward to e-meeting lots of people. Feels like only the second time I’m introducing myself as a poet. (The first time required quite a lot of Scotch.)  


Busy spring!

Happy Passover/Easter/Spring from the Deep South, where we’re already knee-deep into strawberry season.

It’s been a busy first quarter. Last week, I published a quick recap of my Seder shopping adventures in Religion Dispatches Magazine.

Last month, I had an interview with Restaurant Opportunity Centers-United co-founder Saru Jayaraman about her new book, Behind the Kitchen Door (get it, if you haven’t yet) in Clarion.

And in February, I was very pleased to join Dr. Jon Deutsch and other culinary publishing experts for a discussion of culinary textbooks at the Roger Smith Cookbook conference.

Blue Coat

I’m so pleased that the good and fun folks at Streetlight Magazine included my essay “Blue Coat” for their relaunch edition. Spring is such a great time for renewing literary ventures. In honor of Spring and Passover, here’s a quick taste — but I hope you’ll savor the whole magazine. There’s lots of good stuff in there.

Before I went to college I was indifferent about my Jewishness. But explaining lox to my first Minnesotan boyfriend (“I thought it was some kind of bread product,” he said), realizing that I argue for fun and sport, knowing that I would never cross a picket line—hell, that I knew what a picket line was—it all made me realize I wasn’t only a New Yorker, I was a Jew. And not just a generic Jew, but a red-diaper-grandbaby Jew. I began—what else?—to study. (And to go to therapy.) I was already interested in this heritage, but when my grandmother died I felt my tether to my Judaism snap, and ricochet back at me.