IMPROMPTU #30: Douglas Luman

xx - napomo - 16 - luman - site

djl-full-hs 500x500First, a prefatory note to all poets and readers who have made it this far with us! Whether you kept up with each prompt day-by-day, only completed half of them (or even just one of them for that matter), Jenni, Beth, and I are thankful that you’ve been engaged with us this month. We’ve been sharing prompts from some of the writers we most admire, and your participation in this endeavor brings another successful April to a close.

But, before we call this National Poetry Month officially over, we’ve got one more challenge for you.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the ways that, before the contemporary internet, data networks passed information from place to place and how humans interacted with and used them. Many of us flash back to the not-too-distant past, and immediately think of the pterodactyl screech of a 14.4/28.8 dial-up modem while others will likely relive nightmares of finding their way through customer service prompts.

At a time when touch-tone phone keypads were our keyboards—and in many ways still are—hackers known as “phreakers” navigated and compromised systems using the various spellings and tones which constitute the pseudo-language which can be written using these keypads.

telephone-keypad

Coupled with my interest in constraint and developing constraints which align with both concept-oriented and procedural intent (one example involves using the Prisoner’s Constraint on texts by/about prisoners), I developed the “phonewords” constraint on appliedpoetics.org to act as a kind of “translator,” a way that one could spell a text only using the limited universe of letter/number combinations that these keypads imposed. If the letters “a,”b,” and “c” are assigned to the number “2,” any phone number which does not contain a “2” cannot use these letters. Simply enough, if a lexicon doesn’t contain letters, one must devise ways around this lack and create new ways to represent them or completely avoid translating them.

Prompt

Write a poem using “phonewords” made from the letters found by translating a phone number which is significant to you. For example, if I were to use 1-800-Flowers’ phone number (356-9377, after the 1-800), the translation would give me a possible letter bank of def,jkl,mno,wxyz,pqrs—any words that use these letters are fair game for my poem. For example, using these letters on this flower text gives me the words which constitute the following poem:

Follow my eyes. See folds of seeds. Does old me know
elder words for joy, or lore from newer woods. See
woe. See Eden. See snowdrop. See poor me. See moon.

Handily, at www.appliedpoetics.org there’s a function for accomplishing this constraint. Navigate to “Numerology,” find “Phonewords” and proceed! But, before you do, note that this generator assumes a maximum of seven (7) digits, so there’ll be at least three letters you won’t be able to use.


Douglas Luman is the Book Reviews editor for the Found Poetry Review, Head Researcher at appliedpoetics.org, Poetry Editor of Phoebe, and Art Director at Stillhouse Press. His work, both poetry and not, has been or will be published in magazines such as Salamander, Prelude, Rain Taxi, and elsewhere.

36 Comments

  • April 30, 2016

    Amanda Earl

    • April 30, 2016

      Vinita Agrawal

      Loved the last line in particular!

    • April 30, 2016

      Misky

      That last line is a gem. Just love it.

      • April 30, 2016

        Amanda Earl

        thanks, Misky. it’s been great reading everyone’s work also.

    • April 30, 2016

      Mark Staniforth

      A lovely way to end and like everyone else I love the last line in particular. Thanks for all your responses this month and who knows, maybe we will cross paths again at some point in the future.

      • April 30, 2016

        Amanda Earl

        thanks, Mark. i hope so. i’m easy to find. amanda at amandaearl dot com .

    • April 30, 2016

      Linda Crosfield

      If ever an ale deserved an ode, it’s Guinness! Love this (also noted that killer last line).

  • […] Wilson’s “Celebration prompt” QuillsEdge Press’ “Hands prompt” Found Poetry’s “Phone-words prompt” Apparatus Mag’s “Endings& Beginnings prompt” Jo Bell’s “Love […]

  • April 30, 2016

    Nathalie Boisard-Beudin

    Alas I cannot get it to work from my phone. I’ll have to wait until a computer comes my way (I.e. next week)

  • April 30, 2016

    Misky

    I hope to write mine tonight; I’ve been out all day photographing bluebells in the forest.

  • April 30, 2016

    Misky

    • April 30, 2016

      Amanda Earl

      lovely. nice sounds to it & images.

    • April 30, 2016

      Linda Crosfield

      Rather a lovely one, this.

    • May 1, 2016

      Vinita Agrawal

      Lovely poem. It resonates with what you’ve been doing all day I.e. photographing bluebells in the forest…which is enchanting in the first place!

  • April 30, 2016

    Mark Staniforth

    I fear I’ve belly-flopped over the line somewhat, but here’s the best I could do. Thanks for all your comments etc this month. It’s been great. https://staniforthmark.wordpress.com/impromptu/

    • April 30, 2016

      Amanda Earl

      this cracked me up. fun :) i’ve enjoyed your poems all month, Mark.

    • April 30, 2016

      Linda Crosfield

      Another mind-bender from you! I’ve really enjoyed your work here, Mark.

    • May 1, 2016

      Vinita Agrawal

      Could’nt be poker faced about that one! I grinned!

  • April 30, 2016

    Linda Crosfield

    Managed to get one done today. I have so enjoyed spending bits of this month with all of you. Thanks for the comments, encouragement, and all the interesting prompts. http://purplemountainpoems.blogspot.ca/2016/04/fpr-30-jacks-of-all.html

  • […] this final prompt is from the ever inventive Douglas Luman, who directs us to his terrific Applied Poetics site to […]

  • May 1, 2016

    james w moore

    i swear it was posted at 11:58. “F is for dying” – http://bit.ly/1SCDVnw. Thanks for the fun, the inventiveness, the challenges, and the great reads. you’re all awesome.

  • May 1, 2016

    Vinita Agrawal

    Here’s mine…a bit late I’m afraid, but nevertheless.
    https://vinitawords.wordpress.com/2016/05/01/broken-mansion/

    Thank you FPR for a month of engaging prompts. Many thanks!!!

  • May 1, 2016

    A. Garnett Weiss

    I accepted the day 29 prompt in NaPoWriMo.net because the Day 30 prompts from that site and from Found Poetry Review were not a good fit. I am pleased to have participated in this month-long writing challenge but, at the same time, feel relieved it’s over.

    Here’s the prompt: “write a poem based on things you remember. Try to focus on specific details… You could start… every line with “I remember,” and then you could either cut out all the instances of “I remember,” or leave them all in, or leave just a few in….”

    What has emerged is a more personal poem than my other offerings this month. Perhaps that’s fitting for the last in this series, perhaps not. I’ll let the poem be for a while, then may revisit “Generation, from memory.”

    Thanks to Found Poetry Review for kick-starting every day in April with great ideas. Here’s the link. Au revoir.

    http://jcsulzenko.com/day-30-poem-generation-from-memory-the-last-piece-in-the-month-long-poetry-challenge/

  • May 1, 2016

    Carol A. Stephen

    I did post this yesterday, before I had dinner, but I had forgotten to embed the link so it did not migrate over here. So it was done, just arrived late! I’ve enjoyed the 30 days although I’ve been frustrated at times, and apologize that I have not spent more time reading everyone else’s work. But I have been catching the poems sometimes, not every day, not always commenting.
    Partly perhaps, because I am in awe of many of you, also because I try not to read before doing my own, and once I get into it, I get so focused I forget to surface again, or it is already time to go on to the next.
    I do have a great deal of difficulty with focus these days. Not maintaining, but making time for the next important thing… The web does not help! — Carol

  • My computer is not liking that site much either.
    After several notices of python errors (Python, that most erroneous snake!), this is what I got:

    “text font font font font font font font font 100 0 0 td font ffffff font td td font ffffff Mon font td of to 100 0 0 0 td www www td td font tt text text tt font td td font tt text tt font td td font tt tt font td td font tt tt font td td tt 1 tt td td font t www font td 100 0 0 0 td www www t www td td font tt tt font td td font tt text text tt font td td tt text tt td td font tt tt font td td font tt tt font td td font em em text font t font of to font n font font td 100 0 0 0 td www www text font t font of to font n font td td font tt num tt font td td font tt tt font td td tt text tt td td font tt tt font td td font tt tt font td td font em em em em text font t font of to font n font em em font td 100 0 0 0 td font t font of to font n font td td font tt tt font td td font tt tt font td td tt tt td td font tt tt font td td font tt tt font td td font em em em em font t font of to font n font font td 100 0 0 0 td td td font tt tt font td td font tt v tt font td td tt v tt td td font tt not tt font td td font tt tt font td td font em em v end of font td end of tt tt end of tt tt end of of you not 1 text text v end of”

    A little terse – again – though “end of” sounds suitable for the end of a challenge.
    Thanks for the prompt, Douglas, and many thanks for all the prompts.

  • May 2, 2016

    JM Scott

    Here is mine http://candlesticksandcadavers.blogspot.com/2016/05/sunken-storm.html
    All these prompts were great and really made me think outside of the box. Thanks for a great month.

  • May 6, 2016

    m.a.scott

    Belated thank you to all the poets who posted prompts and those who shared their work during April. I wasn’t able to keep up, but I’ll be working through these prompts throughout the year.

  • […] Day 30: Douglas Luman […]