Open “Oulipoems” by Millie Niss with Martha Deed
This is a delightful collection of seven short Flash poems inspired by OULIPO constraints and US politics from around 2004, such as the Iraq war. The introduction to the poems offers abundant detail on the combinatorial mathematics and constraints used, so I will offer a brief comment on each piece:
- “Oulipoems” — the headline for the pieces— has a looping scheduled piece that plays with sounds similar to the syllables in the title setting the tone for the granular permutational approach used in all the poems.
- “Sundays in the Park” puts together a text out of phrases that have been substituted by homophones (or near-homophones), reinforced by looping voice recordings reading words from the text. One can click on the texts to recombine them into something that makes more sense, but there is much amusement to be found in exploring the alternate phrasings.
- “Morningside Vector Space” puts together a neat interface to explore variations on a brief, banal narrative along a Cartesian coordinate system. I suggest exploring the four corners to get a sense of the extremes and then explore the points between to see how the styles attenuate and combine.
- “No War!” very effectively creates a minefield on an image by filling it with invisible hotspots which trigger sound sequences when the mouse is moved over them. Move your pointer carefully at first to get a sense of individual sequences and then move rapidly it all over the poem to trigger a wall of antiwar sounds.
- “Headline News” will allow you to recombine its component texts in so many ways to create so many “headlines” that you could do it for the rest of your existence. But you will never find one that has anything nice to say about Cheney…
- “Poggle” is a catchy poem generator based on Boggle that will allow you to create lines of poetry within a set of constraints that makes it quite challenging to make a good one.
- “The Electronic Muse” generates lines based on Chomskyan linguistics using the lexicons of different poets. This poem generator offers tools and options to really invite play, rearrangement, and contributions to the lexicon, allowing more creative engagement with the work.
These Oulipoems are potentially hours of fun, creative reflection.
Featured in The Electronic Literature Collection, Volume 1.