Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Bernadette Mayer’s Experiments List
Pick a word or phrase at random, let mind play freely around it until a few ideas have come up, then seize on one and begin to write. Try this with a non- connotative word, like "so" etc.
Systematically eliminate the use of certain kinds of words or phrases from a piece of writing: eliminate all adjectives from a poem of your own, or take out all words beginning with 's' in Shakespeare's sonnets.
Rewrite someone else's writing. Experiment with theft and plagiarism.
Systematically derange the language: write a work consisting only of prepositional phrases, or, add a gerund to every line of an already existing work.
Get a group of words, either randomly selected or thought up, then form these words (only) into a piece of writing-whatever the words allow. Let them demand their own form, or, use some words in a predetermined way. Design words.
Eliminate material systematically from a piece of your own writing until it is "ultimately" reduced, or, read or write it backwards, line by line or word by word. Read a novel backwards.
Using phrases relating to one subject or idea, write about another, pushing metaphor and simile as far as you can. For example, use science terms to write about childhood or philosophic language to describe a shirt.
Take an idea, anything that interests you, or an object, then spend a few days looking and noticing, perhaps making notes on what comes up about that idea, or, try to create a situation or surrounding where everything that happens is in relation.
Construct a poem as if the words were three-dimensional objects to be handled in space. Print them on large cards or bricks if necessary.
Write as you think, as close as you can come to this, that is, put pen to paper and don't stop. Experiment writing fast and writing slow.
Attempt tape recorder work, that is, recording without a text, perhaps at specific times.
Make notes on what happens or occurs to you for a limited amount of time, then make something of it in writing.
Get someone to write for you, pretending they are you.
Write in a strict form, or, transform prose into a poetic form.
Write a poem that reflects another poem, as in a mirror.
Read or write a story or myth, then put it aside and, trying to remember it, write it five or ten times at intervals from memory. Or, make a work out of continuously saying, in a column or list, one sentence or line, over and over in different ways, until you get it "right."
Make a pattern of repetitions.
Take an already written work of your own and insert, at random or by choice, a paragraph or section from, for example, a psychology book or a seed catalogue. Then study the possibilities of rearranging this work or rewriting the "source."
Experiment with writing in every person and tense every day.
Explore the possibilities of lists, puzzles, riddles, dictionaries, almanacs, etc. Consult the thesaurus where categories for the word "word" include: word as news, word as message, word as information, word as story, word as order or command, word as vocable, word as instruction, promise, vow, contract.
Write what cannot be written; for example, compose an index.
The possibilities of synesthesia in relation to language and words: the word and the letter as sensations, colors evoked by letters, sensations caused by the sound of a word as apart from its meaning, etc. And the effect of this phenomenon on you; for example, write in the water, on a moving vehicle.
Attempt writing in a state of mind that seems least congenial.
Consider word and letter as forms-the concretistic distortion of a text, a multiplicity of o's or ea's, or a pleasing visual arrangement: "the mill pond of chill doubt."
Do experiments with sensory memory: record all sense images that remain from breakfast, study which senses engage you, escape you.
Write, taking off from visual projections, whether mental or mechanical, without thought to the word in the ordinary sense, no craft.
Make writing experiments over a long period of time. For example, plan how much you will write for a particular work each day, perhaps one word or one page.
Write on a piece of paper where something is already printed or written.
Attempt to eliminate all connotation from a piece of writing and vice versa.
Experiment with writing in a group, collaborative work: a group writing individually off of each other's work over a long period of time in the same room; a group contributing to the same work, sentence by sentence or line by line; one writer being fed information and ideas while the other writes; writing, leaving instructions for another writer to fill in what you can't describe; compiling a book or work structured by your own language around the writings of others; or a group working and writing off of each other's dream writing.
Dream work: record dreams daily, experiment with translation or transcription of dream thought, attempt to approach the tense and incongruity appropriate to the dream, work with the dream until a poem or song emerges from it, use the dream as an alert form of the mind's activity or consciousness, consider the dream a problem-solving device, change dream characters into fictional characters, accept dream's language as a gift.
Structure a poem or prose writing according to city streets, miles, walks, drives. For example: Take a fourteen-block walk, writing one line per block to create a sonnet; choose a city street familiar to you, walk it, make notes and use them to create a work; take a long walk with a group of writers, observe, make notes and create works, then compare them; take a long walk or drive-write one line or sentence per mile. Variations on this.
The uses of journals. Keep a journal that is restricted to one set of ideas, for instance, a food or dream journal, a journal that is only written in when it is raining, a journal of ideas about writing, a weather journal. Remember that journals do not have to involve "good" writing-they are to be made use of. Simple one-line entries like "No snow today" can be inspiring later. Have 3 or 4 journals going at once, each with a different purpose. Create a journal that is meant to be shared and commented on by another writer--leave half of each page blank for the comments of the other.
Type out a Shakespeare sonnet or other poem you would like to learn about/imitate double-spaced on a page. Rewrite it in between the lines.
Find the poems you think are the worst poems ever written, either by your own self or other poets. Study them, then write a bad poem.
Choose a subject you would like to write "about." Then attempt to write a piece that absolutely avoids any relationship to that subject. Get someone to grade you.
Write a series of titles for as yet unwritten poems or proses.
Work with a number of objects, moving them around on a field or surface-describe their shifting relationships, resonances, associations. Or, write a series of poems that have only to do with what you see in the place where you most often write. Or, write a poem in each room of your house or apartment. Experiment with doing this in the home you grew up in, if possible.
Write a bestiary (a poem about real and mythical animals).
Write five short expressions of the most adamant anger; make a work out of them.
Write a work gazing into a mirror without using the pronoun I.
A shocking experiment: Rip pages out of books at random (I guess you could xerox them) and study them as if they were a collection of poetic/literary material. Use this method on your old high school or college notebooks, if possible, then create an epistemological work based on the randomly chosen notebook pages.
Meditate on a word, sound or list of ideas before beginning to write.
Take a book of poetry you love and make a list, going through it poem by poem, of the experiments, innovations, methods, intentions, etc. involved in the creation of the works in the book.
Write what is secret. Then write what is shared. Experiment with writing each in two different ways: veiled language, direct language.
Write a soothing novel in twelve short paragraphs.
Write a work that attempts to include the names of all the physical contents of the terrestrial world that you know.
Take a piece of prose writing and turn it into poetic lines. Then, without remembering that you were planning to do this, make a poem of the first and last words of each line to see what happens. For instance, the lines (from Einstein)
When at the reception
Of sense-impressions, memory pictures
Emerge this is not yet thinking
And when. . .
And so on. Form the original prose, poetic lines, and first-and-last word poem into three columns on a page. Study their relationships.
If you have an answering machine, record all messages received for one month, then turn them into a best-selling novella.
Write a macaronic poem (making use of as many languages as you are conversant with).
Attempt to speak for a day only in questions; write only in questions.
Attempt to become in a state where the mind is flooded with ideas; attempt to keep as many thoughts in mind simultaneously as possible. Then write without looking at the page, typescript or computer screen (This is "called" invisible writing).
Choose a period of time, perhaps five or nine months. Every day, write a letter that will never be sent to a person who does or does not exist, or to a number of people who do or do not exist. Create a title for each letter and don't send them. Pile them up as a book.
Etymological work. Experiment with investigating the etymologies of all words that interest you, including your own name(s). Approaches to etymologies: Take a work you've already written, preferably something short, look up the etymological meanings of every word in that work including words like "the" and "a". Study the histories of the words used, then rewrite the work on the basis of the etymological information found out. Another approach: Build poems and writings form the etymological families based on the Indo-European language constructs, for instance, the BHEL family: bulge, bowl, belly, boulder, billow, ball, balloon; or the OINO family: one, alone, lonely, unique, unite, unison, union; not to speak of one of the GEN families: kin, king, kindergarten, genteel, gender, generous, genius, genital, gingerly, pregnant, cognate, renaissance, and innate!
Write a brief bibliography of the science and philosophy texts that interest you. Create a file of newspaper articles that seem to relate to the chances of writing poetry.
Write the poem: Ways of Making Love. List them.
Diagram a sentence in the old-fashioned way. If you don't know how, I'll be happy to show you; if you do know how, try a really long sentence, for instance from Melville.
Turn a list of the objects that have something to do with a person who has died into a poem or poem form, in homage to that person.
Write the same poem over and over again, in different forms, until you are weary. Another experiment: Set yourself the task of writing for four hours at a time, perhaps once, twice or seven times a week. Don't stop until hunger and/or fatigue take over. At the very least, always set aside a four-hour period once a month in which to write. This is always possible and will result in one book of poems or prose writing for each year. Then we begin to know something.
Attempt as a writer to win the Nobel Prize in Science by finding out how thought becomes language, or does not.
Take a traditional text like the pledge of allegiance to the flag. For every noun, replace it with one that is seventh or ninth down from the original one in the dictionary. For instance, the word "honesty" would be replaced by "honey dew melon." Investigate what happens; different dictionaries will produce different results.
Attempt to write a poem or series of poems that will change the world. Does everything written or dreamed of do this?
Write occasional poems for weddings, for rivers, for birthdays, for other poets' beauty, for movie stars maybe, for the anniversaries of all kinds of loving meetings, for births, for moments of knowledge, for deaths. Writing for the "occasion" is part of our purpose as poets in being-this is our work in the community wherein we belong and work as speakers for others.
Experiment with every traditional form, so as to know it.
Write poems and proses in which you set yourself the task of using particular words, chosen at random like the spelling exercises of children: intelligence, amazing, weigh, weight, camel, camel's, foresight, through, threw, never, now, snow, rein, rain. Make a story of that!
Plan, structure, and write a long work. Consider what is the work now needed by the culture to cure and exact even if by accident the great exorcism of its 1998 sort-of- seeming-not-being. What do we need? What is the poem of the future? What is communicable now? What more is communicable?
Compose a list of familiar phrases, or phrases that have stayed in your mind for a long time--from songs, from poems, from conversation:
What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet
(Romeo and Juliet)
A rose is a rose is a rose
A raisin in the sun
The king was in the counting house
Counting out his money. . .
I sing the body electric. . .
These United States. . .
A thing of beauty is a joy forever
(I summon up) remembrance of things past
Ask not for whom the bell tolls
It tolls for thee
Look homeward, Angel
For fools rush in where angels fear to tread
All's well that ends well
I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness
I think therefore I am
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,. . .
O brave new world has such people in it
(Shakespeare, The Tempest, later Huxley)
Odi et amo (I hate and I love)
Water water everywhere
Nor any drop to drink
Curiouser and curiouser
(Alice in Wonderland)
Don't worry be happy. Here's a little song I wrote. . .
Write the longest most beautiful sentence you can imagine-make it be a whole page.
Set yourself the task of writing in a way you've never written before, no matter who you are.
What is the value of autobiography?
Attempt to write in a way that's never been written before.
Invent a new form.
Write a perfect poem.
Write a work that intersperses love with landlords.
In a poem, list what you know.
Address the poem to the reader.
Write household poems-about cooking, shopping, eating and sleeping.
Write dream collaborations in the lune form.
Write poems that only make use of the words included in Basic English.
Attempt to write about jobs and how they affect the writing of poetry.
Write while being read to from science texts, or, write while being read to by one's lover from any text.
Trade poems with others and do not consider them your own.
Exercises in style: Write twenty-five or more different versions of one event.
Review the statement: "What is happening to me, allowing for lies and exaggerations which I try to avoid, goes into my poems."
Charles Bernstein's Experiments
1. Homolinguistic translation: Take a poem (someone else's, then your own) and translate it "English to English" by substituting word for word, phrase for phrase, line for line, or "free" translation as response to each phrase or sentence. Or translate the poem into another literary style or a different diction, for example into a slang or vernacular. Do several different types of homolinguistic translation of a single source poem. (Cf.Six Fillious by bp nichol, Steve McCaffery, Robert Fillious, George Brecht, Dick Higgins, Dieter Roth, which also included translation of the poem to French and German.) Chaining: try this with a group, sending the poem on for "translation" from person to another until you get back to the first author. (See David Nemeth's version.). See also, bpNichol, Translating Translating Apollinaire.
2. He Do the Police in Voices: Dialect & Idiolect: Translate or compose a poem or other work into a different dialect or idiolect, your own or other. Dialect can include subculture lingo, slang, text messaging shorthand, etc. For example, Steve McCaffery's translation of the Communist Manifesto in West Riding of Yorkshire dialect (at PennSound): audio, text. See also Nathan Kageyam's translation of Pound's "The Return" into pidgin (Hawaiian Creole English). Use the dialect engine to translate a text into one of several "dialects," then use the results to make a poem.
3. Homophonic translation: Take a poem in a foreign language that you can pronounce but not necessarily understand and translate the sound of the poem into English (e.g., French "blanc" to blank or "toute" to toot). Some examples: Louis and Celia Zukofsky's Catullus., David Melnick's Homer at Eclipse: Men in Aida -- part one and part two; Ron Silliman on homophonic translation (his own, Melnick's, and Chris Tysh's), and two examples by Charles Bernstein -- from Basque and from Portuguese . — Rewrite to suit?
4. Lexical translation: Take a poem in a foreign language that you can pronounce but not necessarily understand and translate it word for word with the help of a bilingual dictionary. (Rewrite to suit?) "Language Is a Virus" provides a translation engine.
5. Try a variant of these four translation exercises using the "Lost in Translation" "Babel" engine, or other web-based translations engines, such as Babelfish, Free Translation.com and Logopoeia's Shortwave Radio Engine.
6. Do multiple translations of a single poem, working in groups or individually. See Caroline Bergvall's poem setting of multiple translations of the opening of Dante's Divine Comedy, from PennSound.
7. Misheard: Write a poem composed entirely of misheard song lyrics, clichés, overheard conversations, news headlines, menu items, etc. See Kenneth Goldsmith, "Head Citations"
8. Acrostic chance: Pick a book at random and use title as acrostic key phrase. For each letter of key phrase go to page number in book that corresponds (a=1, z=26) and copy as first line of poem from the first word that begins with that letter to end of line or sentence. Continue through all key letters, leaving stanza breaks to mark each new key word. (Cf.: Jackson Mac Low's Stanzas for Iris Lezak.) Variations include using author's name as code for reading through her or his work, using your own or friend's name, picking different kinds of books for this process, devising alternative acrostic procedures. Or use the web Mac Low diastic engine.
9. Tzara's Hat: Everyone in a group writes down a word (alternative: phrase, line) and puts it in a hat. Poem is made according to the order in which it is randomly pulled from hat. (Solo: pick a series of words or lines from books, newspapers, magazines to put in the hat.)
10. Burroughs's fold-in: Take two different pages from a newspaper or magazine article, or a book, and cut the pages in half vertically. Paste the mismatched pages together. (Cf.: William Burroughs’s The Third Mind.) Use the computer cut-up engine to perform a similar task automatically; also engines at "Language Is a Virus:" Cut Up Machine, Slice-n-Dice, Exquisite Cadavulator. And: Ron Starr's travesty engine.
11. General cut-ups: Write a poem composed entirely of phrases lifted from other sources. Use one source for a poem and then many; try different types of sources: literary, historical, magazines, advertisements, manuals, dictionaries, instructions, travelogues, etc. See cut-up engines listed above.
12. Cento: Write a collage made up of full-lines of selected source poems.
13. Serial sentences: Select one sentence each from a variety of different books or other sources. Add sentences of your own composition. Combine into one paragraph, reordering to produce the most interesting results.
14. Substitution (1): "Mad libs." Take a poem (or other source text) and put blanks in place of three or four words in each line, noting the part of speech under each blank. Fill in the blanks being sure not to recall the original context.
15. Substitution (2): "7 up or down." Take a poem or other, possibly well known, text and substitute another word for every noun, adjective, adverb, and verb; determine the substitute word by looking up the index word in the dictionary and going 7 up or down, or one more, until you get a syntactically suitable replacement. (Cf.: Lee Ann Brown's "Pledge" & Michael Magee's "Pledge" (go to p.37 of pdf of Morning Constitutional) or Clark Coolidge and Larry Fagin, On the Pumice of Morons.)
16. Substitution (3): Find and replace. Systematically replace one word in a source text with another word or string of words. Perform this operation serially with the same source text, increasing the number of words in the replace string.
17. Alphabet poems: make up a poem of 26 words so that each word begins with the next letter of the alphabet. Write another alphabet poem but scramble the letter order.
18. Alliteration (assonance): Write a poem in which all the words in each line begin with the same letter.
19. Recombination (1): Write a poem and cut it somewhere in the middle, then recombine with the beginning part following the ending part.
20. Recombination (2) -- Doubling: Starting with one sentence, write a series of paragraphs each doubling the number of sentences in the previous paragraph and including all the words used previously. (Cf. Ron Silliman's Ketjak)
21. Collaboration: Write poems with one or more other people, alternating words, lines, or stanzas (chaining or renga), writing simultaneously and collaging, rewriting, editing, supplementing the previous version. This can be done in person, via e-mail, or via regular mail.
22. Group sonnet: 14 people each write one ten-word line (or alternate measure) on an index card. Order to suit. Alternate: write the poem in sequence, with each person writing the next line having read and considered the previous lines. Modify this to any form or to an open form with any number of participants.
23. Collaborative Surrealist Language Event (I) (for two or more people): One person writes down a question without showing it to anyone else; simultaneously, another person writes down an answer; poem is formed by a series of these questions and answers. Alternate form: One question: multiple answers; vice versa. For example: "When candlelight proves disastrous for performing an appendectomy / Peacocks and crocodiles would dance on the Nile at noon. // If Homer’s brother is cannibalized in the forum by the barbarians / A puppy dog would go to lasco.// If Marx was born in Boise /Then the world would eat nothing but purple-colored ice cream." (Cf: Robert Desnos's ":Language Events.")
24. Collaborative Surrealist Language Event (II) (for two or more people): One person writes a clause beginning "if" or "when"; without seeing this, a second person write a clause in the conditional or future tense. For example: " What is the pink elephant? The reason why it is so cold this week.// Is the door locked? / I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! in my fashion." (Cf: Robert Desnos's ": Language Events.")
25. Modified Exquisite Corpse: Each person in the group writes down one line, folds paper so the line cannot be seen, and passes to the next.
26. Write a poem in which you try to transcribe as accurately as you can your thoughts while you are writing. Don't edit anything out. Write as fast as you can without planning what you are going to say.
27. Autopilot: Trying as hard as you can not to think or consider what you are writing, write as much as you can as fast you can without any editing or concern for syntax, grammar, narrative, or logic. Try to keep this going for as long as possible: one hour, two hours, three hours: don't look back don't look up.
28. Dream work: Write down your dreams as the first thing you do every morning for 30 days. Apply translation and aleatoric processes to this material. Double the length of each dream. Weave them together into one poem, adding or changing or reordering material. Negate or reverse all statements ("I went down the hill to "I went up the hill," "I didn't" to "I did"). Borrow a friend's dreams and apply these techniques to them.
29. Write a poem made up entirely of neologisms or nonsense words or fragments of words. (Cf.: Lewis Carroll's "Jabberwocky", Khlebnikov's zaum, Schwitters "Ur Sonata." P. Inman's, Ocker, Platin and Uneven Development and David Melnick's Pcoet. (via Eclipse). Use Neil Hennessy's JABBER: The Jabberwocky Engine to generate lexicon. Also see The International Dictionary of Neologisms.
30. Write a poem with each line filling in the blanks of "I used to be _____ but now I am ______." ("I used to write poems, but now I just do experiments"; "I used to make sense, but now I just make poems.")
31. Write a poem consisting entirely of things you'd like to say, but never would, to a parent, lover, sibling, child, teacher, roommate, best friend, mayor, president, corporate CEO, etc.
32. Take same sentence or stanza and cast it as if said to oneself silently, half-whispered, said to an intimate, said to a small group, said to a large group.
33. Write a poem consisting entirely of overheard conversation.
34. Nonliterary forms: Write a poem in the form of an index, a table of contents, a resume, an advertisement for an imaginary or real product, an instruction manual, a travel guide, a quiz or examination, etc.
35. Imitation: Write a poem in the style of each of a dozen poets who you like and dislike. Try to make it as close to a forgery of an "unknown" poem of the author as possible.
36. Write a poem without mentioning any objects.
37. Write a poem focusing on a single object of "thing." See Ponge on an orange.
38. Backwards: Reverse or alter the line sequence of a poem of your own or someone else's. Next, reverse the word order. Rather than reverse, scramble.
39. Write an autobiographical poem without using any pronouns.
40. Attention: Write down everything you hear for one hour.
41. Brainard's Memory: Write a poem all of whose lines start "I remember ..." (Cf.: Joe Brainard's I Remember & audio from UBU ) . ALSO: Brainard's: Imaginary Still Lifes
42. "Pits": Write the worst possible poem you can imagine.
43. Counting: Write poems that conform to various numeric patterns for number of words in a line or sentence, number of lines in a stanza or paragraph, number of stanzas or paragraphs in a work. Alternately, count letters or syllables. Use complex numeric series or simpler fixed-number patterns.
44. Write a poem just when you are on the verge of falling asleep. Write a line a day as you are falling asleep or waking up.
45. [Removed for further study]
46. List poem 1: Write a poem consisting of favorite words or phrases collected over a period of time; pick your favorite words from a particular book.
47. List poem 2: write a poem consisting entirely of a list of "things", either homogenous or heterogeneous (common lists include shopping lists, things to do, lists of flowers or rocks, lists of colors, inventory lists, lists of events, lists of names, ...).
48. Chronology: Make up a list of dates with associated events, real or imagined.
49. Transcription: Tape a phone or live conversation between yourself and a friend. Make a poem composed entirely of transcribed parts.
50. Canceling: Write a series of lines or rhymes such that every other one cancels the one before ("I come before you / to stand behind you").
51. Erasure: Take a poem of your own or someone else's and cross out most of the words on each poem, retype what remains as your poem. (Cf.: Ronald Johnson's RADI OS from Milton.)
52. Write a series of ten poems going from one to ten words in each poem. Reorder.
53. Write a poem composed entirely of questions.
54. Write a poem made up entirely of directions.
55. Write a poem consisting only of opening lines (improvise your own lines, then use source texts).
56. Write a poem consisting only of prepositions, then of prepositions and one other part of speech, then three part of speech.
57. Write a series of eight-word lines consisting of one each of each part of speech.
58. Write a poem consisting of one-word lines; write a poem consisting of two-word lines; write a poem consisting of three-word lines.
59. Pick 20 words, either a word list you generate yourself or from source texts. Write three different poems using only these words.
60. Synchronicity: Write a poem in which all the events occur simultaneously.
61. Diachronicity: Write a poem in which all the events occur in different places and at different times.
62. Visual poetry: write poems with strong visual or "concrete" elements — including a combination of lexical and nonlexical (pictorial) elements. Play with alphabets and typography, placement of words on the page, etc. (See UBUWEB for many examples,)
63. Write a series of stanzas or poems while listening to music; change type of music for each stanza or poem.
64. Elimination: Cut out the second half of sentences.
65. Excuses list: Write a poem made up entirely of excuses.
66. Sprung Diary: Write a diary tracking and intercutting multiple levels of thoughts, experiences, anticipations, expectations, from minute to major. (Cf.. Hannah Weiner's Clairvoyant Journal.)
67. "Walking on Colors": Walk a city block or a country mile paying attention as much as possible to one color; list all the things found in this one color; write about it.
68. Negation/Opposites: Negate every phrase or sentence in the poem or in some way substitute opposite words for selected words in the source text: "I went to the beach" becomes "I went to the office"; "I got up" becomes "She sat down"; "I will" become "I will not", etc. As an alternative, take a poem and change what it says line for line or phrase for phrase; not opposite, just different.
69. Google Poem: construct a poem using Leevi Lehto's engine (use the patterns feature). See also (if it comes back on line) Bill Luomo's Lizardo engine. Alternate Google poem, based on M. Silem Mohammad's Deer Head Nation : use Google search results as the source material for a poem: erase as much as you like, but don't add anything. Many variations possible. See also: The Apostrophe Engine, the source for Apostrophe: The Book by Bill Kennedy and Darren Wershler-Henry.
70. FLARF: A recent extension of this approach, which is developing independent, is called "fluff." Michael Magee explains, in this Experiments List exclusive report, "The Flarf Files."
71. Use the Googlism engine to create a poem based on a name or word.
72. Multilingual poem: write a poem using several languages that are integrated into the single poem. (Cf: Anne Tardos).
73. Pick several images from the internet or a magazine and write an accompanying poem .
74. Graphic design 101.1: Take a poem, first another's then your own, and set it ten different ways, using different fonts and different page sizes. Make a web version of the poem.
75. Take a poem, first another's then your own, and rearrange the line breaks or visual composition, while keeping the same word order. Do this five times, some with freely composed arrangements and some using some form of counting.
76. From Stacy Doris: I. Write a poem (or take a poem you have already written on the topic) about sex. Then rewrite it, substituting words having to do with warfare for the words having to do with sex. II. Write a poem (or take a poem you have already written on the topic) about love. Then rewrite it, substituting words having to do with government for the words of amorousness. III. Write a poem (or take a poem you have already written on the topic) about god and religion. Then rewrite it, substituting words having to do with a political figure whose policy you oppose for the words referring to faith and god.
77. Christian Bök's lipogram Eunoia consists of a five sections each with words containing the same vowel (as in "O": Yoko Ono). This is reminiscent of certain notorious Ouilipian constrains, such as Perec's novel La Disparition , which suppresses the letter "e". Write a poem in the manner of Eunoia..
78. Proliferating styles. In 1947, Raymond Queneau, a founding member of OuLiPo (Ouvroir de Littérature Potentielle, or "Workshop of Potential Literature") published Exercises de Style, 99 variations on the "same" story. Each of this 99 approaches could take a place of honor in this list but best to turn to that work for the enumeration and explanation. For present purposes (if purposes doesn't strike an overly teleological chord), suffice it to say that an initial incident, mood, core proposition, description, idea, or indeed, story, might be run through the present list of experiments, though to what end only the Shadow knows, and maybe not even the Shadow.
79. Modular poems. One example: Queneau's One Hundred Thousand Billion Poems
80. Use any of these experiments that involve as source text as a way of reading through already existing poems; that is, as interactive tools for "creative reading." As an extension, study poems via the modes of "Deformative Criticism" (the term is from Jerome McGann and Lisa Samuel). For example, take a poem and erase all but one part of speech, leaving the visual layout intact, or read it backward or otherwise re-order it, or translate it (using any of the translation exercises listed here), Alternately, use these experiments as a way to rewrite or transform your own poems.
81. Use the "Meaning Eater" engine to deform the text of a poem.
82. Use a sound editor to scramble, resound a sound file of a poem. (See PennSound Deformance page, under construction.)
83. Make a poem composed of all the things you don't know (or some of them)
84. Make up more experiments.
Remember: Poems can be in prose format! Rewrite and recombine, collage, splice together the material generated from these experiments into one long ongoing poem! Compiled by Charles Bernstein. (C) 1996-2006 by Poets' Ludicrously Aimless Yearning (PLAY). Dispense only as appropriate and under the supervision of an attending reader. Individual experiments are not liable for injury or failure resulting from improper use of appliance. Any profits accrued as a direct or indirect result of the use of these formulas shall be redistributed to the language at large. Management assumes no responsibility for damages that may result consequent to the use of this material in educational institutions or individual writing project. Revised July 2006. The Finnish translation of the list.
For a version of Bernstein's list with hyperlinks, click here.