Oulipost #1: Quote Cento

Today is the first day of National Poetry Month, and in its honor I am one of 68 poets participating in Oulipost 2014. Each day of the month you will find a new poem here written by me – created by following one of the prompts given us each day. In addition, we are to adhere to using a local newspaper to work from with every prompt. In one of my earlier posts I stated I’d be using the Toledo Blade, and that remains the same. Our first prompt was to write a Quote Cento. You will find my poem, the sources, and then as promised, the prompt that we were given in case you would like to “play” along. I chose to use several different articles for my quotes, including the title:

It’s Hard Out Here

We’re not in tears:

Dogs do really well on three legs.

I’d give anything to make it stop.

People are getting excited about trying new things –

best part is we have helmets to serve food in.

The hard part, telling people we can’t help them tonight.

You just have to keep your head up.

It’s hard out here…

It’s barely enough to scrape by.

We’re proud that Ohio is the second-

largest auto-producing state

in the entire country.

Give Peeps a chance.

Everybody else is happy.

Sometimes things start out as a joke.



Bilyeu, Mary. “Peeps Aren’t for Everyone.” Toledo Blade 1 Apr. 2014: D1. Print.
—                   “Fowl Balls: Mud Hens introduce new fare for ’14 season.” Toledo Blade 1 Apr. 2014: D6. Print.

Briggs, David. “An Unlikely Hero.” Toledo Blade 1 Apr. 2014: C1. Print.

Harris-Taylor, Marlene. “Thousands try to beat deadline for health-insurance coverage.” Toledo Blade 1 Apr. 2014: A1. Print.

Linkhorn, Tyrel. “Ohio, Michigan carry weight on auto caucus.” Toledo Blade 1 Apr. 2014: B7. Print.

Mester, Alexandria. “Dog in foster care; Police seek suspect.” Toledo Blade 1 Apr. 2014: B2. Print.


To play along with us, here is the prompt from the Oulipost Playbook:

When composing a cento, poets take lines from existing poems (traditionally without any alterations) and patch them together to
form a new poem. Today, create a cento using only quotes referenced in newspaper articles. For example, if a newspaper article contained the line “It was a tragedy,” commented Detective Smith, the line, “It was a tragedy,” would be available for you to use in your poem. While you can’t change anything within the quotes themselves, you may choose to break a longer quote in half or use just part of a quote as needed.


• Purist? Challenge yourself to write your cento using only complete quotes (sentences) as they appear in your articles.
• Add an additional constraint by challenging yourself to use only quotes sourced from a single article, single newspaper page or single newspaper


See you tomorrow!

4 thoughts on “Oulipost #1: Quote Cento

  1. Nice! I really like the way you put these two lines together People are getting excited about trying new things-best part is we have helmets to serve food in.”

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