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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

For "Real Toads" with no descenders

With no ascenders, either. Them's the rules in one of OuLiPo's constraints for creating writers. (Yes, for creating writers.)


Stress the Prisoner
© Kay Davies, 2011 


remorse
moans—
sex
snores—
morn
means
sun rises.
*
vices
race—
rain
vexes—
worms
mean
no more.
*



What is an OuLiPo? No, it isn't an oriental sea monster. It is a longstanding group of writers in France who believe writers can learn best within certain restraining parameters, in this case using only the letters of the alphabet which have no ascenders (b, d, k, etc.) or descenders (j, g, y, etc.).
This leaves us with a , c , e , m , n, o, r , s, v , w , x , z, according to Kenia of the writers' group Imaginary Gardens with Real Toads. I added the letters i and u, which seem to have been left out, giving me:
a , c , e , m , n, o, r , s, v , w , x , z, i, u.
This form, without ascenders and descenders, is called Stress the Prisoner, and presupposes a prisoner wanting to send a message on a very small piece of paper. The message doesn't necessarily have to mean "help, get me out of here" or "quick, bring me cigarettes" either.

If I haven't confused you sufficiently, Kenia will help. Just use the Real Toads link. She also mentioned other OuLiPo systems of constraint, and I am looking forward to trying the chimeric one called Sardinosaure (which makes more sense as a name in French than it does in English).
So, it is a fun exercise and who am I to argue if a group of French writers want to believe this creates a creative soul? I'm a Canadian, that's what I am, and anglophone Canadians are legislated not to disagree with the French.

6 comments:

Kenia Cris said...

Wow!!! This is an excellent outcome!!! I'm glad you attempted at writing under this constraint.

I've added two others to the post because I was afraid it would be too difficult for people to use the ones I had left there but I see it was not for you!

Thanks for writing Kay!

<3

Kenia Cris said...

And I forgot to thank you for mentioning the I and U - I had really forgotten about them.

OuLiPo is a challenge I always like to try because it was originally developed by men to men's use only, women were not allowed in the group - I like to think they just made a poor choice by leaving women's sweetness out of the fun.

Kiss you dear. <3

Kerry O'Connor said...

So quick off the mark this morning, Kay. I'm still gasping like a grounded fish... I loved the sound qualities which was an unexpected result of this constraint.

Sofies Haus said...

this frog looks amazing, hughs Anja

Mary Ann Potter said...

Kay, this is so good!!! I haven't tried this challenge yet, but you certainly did a great job with it!

Kay said...

Aaaack! Kay, I just can't do this.