A Note to the Reader
Below you will find a list of the constraints used by our contributors. As I mentioned in the introduction, there are different views on the revelation of an author's self-imposed restrictions. With that in mind, I have been deliberately vague where the constraints are more familiar (i.e. Acrostics and Lipograms), but have provided more detail surrounding the lesser known, unique, or newly created constraints our authors have contributed to this issue. Some I have left up to you, the reader, to find. As Norman Conquest put it, "Other formulas have been applied, but are best left undisclosed."
Acrostics are vertical successions of letters that, in paragraph or verse, form words, names, or phrases. Norman Conquest, Patrick Cosgrove, and Dave Drayton employ various acrostic techniques in their respective pieces.
Antonymic Translation replaces one letter/word/statement for its opposite. Esther Greenleaf Murer's poem "Back out of a boire" is an antonymic translation.
Homophonic Translation preserves the vocabulary of the source text, but disregards its sense and syntax. Matt Leyshon (using Wolf Solent, by John Cowper Powys as his source text), and Esther Greenleaf Murer (using Charles Bernstein) applied homophonic translation to their work. Philip Terry's "A Punk Diary" is a fascinating variation of this technique. As Terry explains:
"Between 1970 and 1982, every January, Perec sent his friends small pamphlets with his best wishes for the New Year. These [were] collections of short texts based on homophonic variations which Perec had printed in a run of 100 copies, and which he then signed and sent out to his friends. They were published posthumously, in book form, in 1989 under the title Voeux, by Éditions du Seuil. Each piece, in the manner of Raymond Roussel, begins with a series of homophonic plays-on-words, then proceeds to construct miniature narratives out of this material, the "method" often being explained in a key at the end of the text."
"A Punk Diary" is in this vein. Here is the key that explains the text:
Blow on D_____
Gang off her
Gang of Four
The meek Cons
Ex to sea
The five berate Hertz
Hell viscous, tell O_____
It's law to ruin the dogs
Slaughter and the Dogs
Their ain coats
Levine in Texas
Living in Texas
No yen...no yen...no yen...
Spies "N" or "G"
The Essex pays Tools
The Sex Pistols
They'll irk Hertz
Lipograms are texts that exclude one or more letters of the alphabet. The ingenuity demanded by this particular restriction varies in proportion to the letter(s) excluded. The Belle Absente and Beau Présent procedures employed by several authors in this issue are Lipograms in which the letters excluded are determined by specific rules. Teri Lee Klein, Patrick Cosgrove, David McGroarty, Susan Oke, Mark Lewis, Daniel Galef, Carlie Loudowl (who excluded the occasional vowel 'Y') and the Clockhouse London Writers use Lipograms in each of their contributions. Daniel Galef's "A Cad, a Decade Added, Be a Cad" is an excellent variation of the lipogrammatic "written using only even letters in its entirety." Galef explains:
"A through G, the notes of the staff, inspired by the musical cyphers apocryphally rumoured to have been used during WW1 by agents with perfect pitch."
N+7 (S+7) was a technique invented by Jean Lescure that replaces each noun in a given text with the seventh following it in a dictionary. Martin Rose, Dave Drayton, Mark Lewis, and John Shire apply the N+7 technique to various texts in this issue.
Permutations play a large role in Oulipian literature. They are a form of combinatorial literature described by the Oxford English Dictionary as:
"…changing the order of a set of things lineally arranged; each of the different arrangements of which such a set of things is capable."
Esther Greenleaf Murer's "Musings on the Relation of Form to Content" are permutations.
Snowballs are a classical form of rhopalic verse in which the first word of a text contains just one letter, the second two, the third three, etc. Snowballs can be made using syllables, number of words per sentence, number of sentences per paragraph, etc. Allen Ashley and Paulo Brito have written snowballs for this issue. Benjamin Robinson's "So and Over Again" contains a variation of the snowball technique to wonderful effect.
Additional Constraints less easily classified appear in:
I, by Dominy Clements. Dominy removed one beat per bar from 14-1 for his musical contribution. The piece can also be played backwards.
Anastasia's Logorrhea, by W.C. Bamberger was generated using the David Magarshack translation of The Devils/The Possessed. A page of this translation was selected and every third word taken from each of the sentences in four successive paragraphs. These seed words were then connected by the fewest possible words required to make a new coherent - if often odd sounding - complete sentence. Upon applying this procedure to Dostoyevsky, Bamberger noted:
"Perhaps the most interesting thing about this procedure is that the resulting text, while using only a few of the original words, maintains the same tone and texture as the original."
Estral Alena, by Dave Drayton, is a sestina, however, given the extensive exploration of the form, the author wished to apply it in conjunction with further constraints, resulting in a new hybrid form Drayton calls, "an acrostic anagrammatic sestina". Each of the six end-words selected for the following example is an anagram of the other five: artels, staler, slater, alters, estral, and alerts. "Such word groups," Drayton explains, "are known as perfect anagrams." In addition, each of the first six stanzas reads vertically as an acrostic poem in that order
Vorkuta Gulag, by Rachel Kendall employs the following constraint: the first vowel of each word in every sentence appears in the order A, E, I, O, U.
A Treatment of John Donne's Meditation XVII, by Wayne Clements, is divided into two sections. "Islands" contains all the words that appear in Donne's Meditation XVII with no letter appearing more than once. "No Islands" contains all the words in the same source text with at least one letter appearing no less than twice.
Threesomes further demonstrates author Wayne Clements' creativity when it comes to constrained writing. In his own words;
"I found words in Shakespeare's Sonnets where at least one letter appears three times. There was minimal editing. Words appear in the order they occur in the sonnets. A few repeated words were deleted."
The Paperback of Babyhood, by Tom Jenks is "a Rogetification of The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1-7. As per Jenks;
"I've been putting The Bible through Roget's Thesaurus via a spreadsheet using random number formulae...I've called the procedure 'Rogetification'. I've allowed myself the clinamen of selecting another synonym if the first didn't make grammatical sense, and of not substituting certain words (the, him, her, etc.) to maintain the essential framework of the original, but otherwise ["The Paperback of Babyhood"] is as the Lord, and Microsoft Excel, made it."
Chapter 3 from the Lovers employs a constraint created by co-authors Philip Terry and James Davies:
"It's our own method. Very simple. We have written a banal love story in 32 paragraphs, each paragraph having 32 words. From each of these paragraphs we have written a further 32 paragraphs, changing one word at a time until all the original words are no longer there. Therefore read horizontally the novella is a simple short banal love story and read vertically there are many stories. This is chapter 3."