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From:J Y S Czhang <czhang23@...>
Date:Friday, May 7, 2004, 4:07
some interesting ideas not just for writing poetry... tools for breaking
conlanging mental blocks, generating conlang/conculture structures, words,
concepts, etc.

best to go to website to access links embedded in the text:



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 differnt types of
homolinguistic transation 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
2. 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, now available via
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 Portugese. -- Rewrite to suit?

3. 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?)

1-3a. Try a variant of these three translation exercises using the "Lost in
Translation" "Babel" engine, or other web-based translations engines, such as
Babelfish and Free

4. 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.

5.  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.)

6.  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.

7.  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.
8. Cento: Write a collage made up of full-lines of selected source poems.

9. 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. 
10. 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
11. 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" or Clark Coolidge and Larry
Fagin, On the Pumice of Morons.)

12. 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
13. 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.

14. Alliteration (assonance):  Write a poem in which all the words in each
line begin with the same letter.

15. Recombination (1): Write a poem and cut it somewhere in the middle, then
recombine with the beginning part following the ending part.

16. Recomination (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
17. 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.

18. Group sonnet:  14 people each write one ten-word line (or alternate
measure) on an index card.  Order to suit.

19. 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.

20. 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

21. 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.

22. Write a poem made up entirely of neologisms or nonsense words or
fragments of words.  (Cf.: Lewis Carroll's "Jabberwocky" and also "Jabberwocky
Variations" page.) Khlebnikov's zaum, Schwitters "Ur Sonata" (at UBU "historical").
P. Inman's, Ocker, Platin  and Uneven Devlelpment   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. (See
Jabberowocky site for

23. 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.")

24. 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.

25. 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

26. Write a poem consisting entirely of overheard conversation.

27. 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.

28. 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.

29. Write a poem without mentioning any objects.

30. 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.

31. Write an autobiographical poem without using any pronouns.

32. Attention: Write down everything you hear for one hour.

33. Brainard's Memory:  Write a poem all of whose lines start "I remember
..."  (Cf.: Joe Brainard's I Remember

34. "Pits": Write the worst possible poem you can imagine.

35. 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.
36. 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.

37. [Removed for further study]

38. 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.

39. 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, ...).

40. Chronology: Make up a list of dates with associated events, real or

41. Transcription:  Tape a phone or live conversation between yourself and a
friend.  Make a poem composed entirely of transcribed parts.

42. 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").

43. Erasure: Take a poem of your own or someone else's and crossout most of
the words on each poem, retype what remains as your poem.  (Cf.: Ronald
Johnson's RADI  OS from Milton.)

44. Write a series of ten poems going from one to ten words in each poem. 

45. Write a poem composed entirely of questions.

46. Write a poem made up entirely of directions.

47. Write a poem consisting only of opening lines (improvise your own lines,
then use source texts).
48. Write a poem consisting only of prepositions, then of prepositions and
one other part of speech.

49. Write a series of eight-word lines consisting of one each of each part of

50. Write a poem consisting of one-word lines; write a poem consisting of
two-word lines; write a poem consisting of three-word lines. 

51. Pick 20 words, either a word list you generate yourself or from source
texts. Write three different poems using only these words.

52. Synchronicity: Write a poem in which all the events occur simultaneously.

53. Diachronicity: Write a poem in which all the events occur in different
places and at different times. 

54. 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,)

55. Write a series of stanzas or poems while listening to music; change type
of music for each stanza or poem.

56. Elimination: Cut out the second half of sentences.

57. Excuses list: Write a poem made up entirely of excuses
58. 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)

59. "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.

60. 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

61. Google Poem: construct a poem using Leevi Lehto's engine (use the patterns
 feature). See also 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.

61a. FLARF: A recent extension of this approach, which is developing
independent, is called "flarf." Michael Magree explains, in this Experiments List
exclusive report, "The Flarf Files."

62. Use the Googlism engine to create a poem based on a name or word.

63. Dialectize: use the dialect engine to translate a text into one of
several "dialects," then use the results to make a poem.

64. Multilingual poem: write a poem using several languages that are
integrated into the single poem. (Cf: Anne Tardos).

65. Pick several images from the internet or a magazine and write an
accompanying poem .

66. Graphic design 101.1: Take a poem, first another's then your own, and set
it ten differnet ways, using different fonts and different page sizes. Make a
web version of the poem.

67. Take a poem, first another's then your own, and rerrange the line breaks
or visual compostion, while keeping the same word order. Do this five times,
some with freely composed arrangements and some using some form of counting.

68. 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

69. Christian Bök's lipogram Eunoia  consists of a five sections each with
words containing the same vowell (as in "O": Yoko Ono). This is reminiscent of
certain notorious Ouilipian constrains, such as Perec's nover La Disparition ,
which suppresses the letter "e". Write a poem in the manner of Eunoia
70. The Annagramatic Imaginary: find ways to use anagrams in a poem, do an
anagrammatical translation of a poem, connect workds or ideas in a poem via
anagrams. Use the Internet Anagram Server.

71. Proliferating styles. In 1947, Raymond Queneau, a founding member of
OuLoPo (Ouvroir de Littérature Potentielle, or "Workshop of Potential Literature")
published Excercises 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 expltion. For present purposes (if purposes
doesn't strike an overly teleological chord), suffice it to say that an intial
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.

72. 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 extention, 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 excercises listed here), Alternately, use these experiments as a way
to rewrite or transform your own poems. 72. 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 from Bernadette Mayer & workshop's Experiments
list, and various other sources. (C) 1996 & 2001, 2002, 2003 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.

This list was inspired by Bernadette Mayer's compilation from the 1970s. For
more Experiments, and Journal ideas, go to: Bernadette Mayer.

---  º°`°º ø,¸¸,ø º°`°º ø,¸¸,ø º°`°º ø,¸¸,ø º°`°º  º°`°º ø,¸~->
Hanuman "Mister Sinister" Zhang, Sloth-Style Gungfu Typist
- "the sloth is a chinese poet upsidedown" --- Jack Kerouac {1922-69}
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"Poems are sketches for existence." - Paul Celan

"...make things/touch and radiate in the mind..." - Kenneth White

"One thing foreigners, computers, & poets have in common
is that they make unexpected linguistic associations." --- Jasia Reichardt

"There is no reason for the poet to be limited to words, & in fact the poet
is most poetic when inventing languages. Hence the concept of the poet as
'language designer'."  --- O. B. Hardison, Jr.

"Poetic creation still remains an act of perfect spiritual freedom. Poetry
remakes & prolongs language; every poetic language begins by being a secret
language, that is, the creation of a personal universe, of a completely closed
world." - Mircea Eliade

"... upward into/the depths." - Tomas Transtromer

"As webs come out of spiders, or breath forms in frozen air, worlds
come out of us".—William Irwin Thompson, _Imaginary Landscape_

--- *DiDJiBuNgA!!* Hang Binary,baby...---

Hanuman "Stitch" Zhang, ManglaLanger (mangle + manga + lang)
<A HREF="">=></A>

     Language[s] change[s]: vowels shift, phonologies crash-&-burn, grammars
leak, morpho-syntactics implode, lexico-semantics mutate, lexicons explode,
orthographies reform, typographies blip-&-beep, slang flashes, stylistics
warp... linguistic (R)evolutions mark each-&-every quantum leap...

"Some Languages Are Crushed to Powder but Rise Again as New Ones" -
John McWhorter, _The Power of Babel: A Natural History of Language_

= maeci legosetplex caca plus debri !
    prizerva. saalva. ricue. scopé-gomi plus riçyc'l ! =

English translitteration of the above _dzjunk-lego_, "junk language":
"Fight {Maquis/-machy} Linguistic Waste & Trash!
    Save, Salvage, Recover, (creatively)Scavenge-Found-Objects & Recycle!"