Anagrammatic Poetry: Emphasizing Letters

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Still reading The Best American Poetry 2007, and it's been slowing up some, because all these different styles of poems always get me trying new things out. For instance, Christian Bok's poem "Vowels," in particular, got my experimental brain think-think-thinking.

You can read "Vowels" here.

In his comments about the poem in BAP 2007, Bok writes, "'Vowels' is an anagrammatic text, permuting the fixed array of letters found only in the title. 'Vowels' appears in my book Eunoia, a lipogrammatic suite of stories, in which each vowel appears by itself in its own chapter."

Since reading this, I've been very interested in trying to write my own poem using only the letters within the title word. During lunch today, this is what I came up with:


Red dresses drape spare dressers,
pass dreaded pear parades...

Spears reads radar passes,
spares dapper dad seeds...

Dear are dead are dads
are ads pressed deep sea dares...

Dear papa pared raps,
spread seeds, snapped red era apps...


The real challenge with this kind of poem was first picking a word that had at least a couple vowels and a good mix of consonants. Then, I brainstormed all the words I could think of using only those letters (as many times as you wish, of course). Creating that word list really gave me a new appreciation of the importance and diversity one extra letter can bring to the table.

After creating a word list, it's just a matter of playing around with different word combinations. I wouldn't be surprised if there's a better "Spread" poem lurking out there since I crammed all these steps in during my lunch break, but it does help illustrate the possibilities and limitations of writing this kind of poetry.


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