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31 Jan 2011

Mark Grist, Poet in Residence, Blog 5 - Jan 2011

Well, it's been a busy month with 'Dead Poets' doing a tour of The East of England. Of all three nights, Norwich was certainly the highlight. The audience was packed and we had a lot of Creative Writing students along who were really laughing along with the show. It was also great to catch up old friends at the gigs and hear about the amazing projects that other writers are up to.

A while ago I saw Joe Dunthorne, Tim Clare and Ross Sutherland performing their show 'Found in translation.' The show focuses on The Oulipo, a group of poets who like to add restraints to writing. It's intelligent, very funny and very, very rude in places - my kind of thing! If you want to find out more about them, click here. Since seeing the show I've become fascinated by writing constraints. I picked up a copy of Perec's 'A Void' the other day - a novel that's also a Lipogram. Lipograms are poems where a letter or group of letters is absent. In this instance, Perec  managed to write an entire novel with out using the letter 'e'.  It's a kind of mystery novel as they're searching for a missing guy called Anton Vowl - gettit? Searching for 'A Vowl' throughout?

Anyway, here's my attempt at a univocalism (another Oulipo constraint that uses only one vowel). It took me ages to write and it's called:

'The Fens'

Meet Beth
Twenty three
Excellent dresser,
She reeks style
Beth gets cheeky,
Necks WKD recklessly
She never expected the sheer hell
Reserved when she entered The Fens
Ten twenty Beth left Ely
Sped her VW beetle west,
Screeched her steed
Beep beeped the steer wheel
Stephen peers meekly ,
He resembles every geezer
except he's weedy
Sheep pressed between Spencer's vest
Beth yells
“Let's see the fens, then get wed!”
Stephen remembers the decree
Keen, he enters the beetle
Delves gently, seeks the belt
Beth revs,
They cheer, then speed freely
When they enter The Fens
Green, fresh smells Meet Beth's senses
Creeks, trees, weeds, levees
Greet them sweetly
Speechless, they creep
The elements stem themselves
Bend themselves wherever they step
every step gets deeper,
The empty greenery seems endless
Stephen feels creeped
He pretends the scheme's serene
Yet secretly every tree leers
Endless, eyeless the enemy peers,
Stephen's nerves melt, jellyblended
He Regrets he needs the strength
The steel we reserve when we remember
When the deep sky speckles
Beth preps her reedy bed
Stephen shelters level
Nestles, Edgy sleeve tenderly
pets her flesh
Beth's eyes needle
She sneers when she sees the tent he's erected
breeding needs rejected
Stephen sleeps neglected
Sleep ended,
They peel themselves free
By eleven The Fens get even denser
The weeds bleed
Scenery fermented
Beth tells herself
They'll never flee the fens,
Ten weeks spent, Beth emerges
Enters the next settlement
She teeters, her energy levels receded
Dress shredded, perm demented , feet wet
Yet she's free!
Except where's Stephen?
Lets expel the mystery
Heed Beth's well fed belches
Her greedy belly swelled
She fended when needs expected
When she felt empty
Her Stephen merely resembled
Beefy yet nerdy entrée.

The End

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