Oulipost: The Exit Interview

The Oulipost project was officially over after I posted my Patchwork Quilt poem…poem #30, on April 30th. I participated in the challenge that was put on by The Found Poetry Review as a part of National Poetry Month, along with 67 fellow poets from across the world. When I started the project, I didn’t know what I was in for…I suspected a lot of time spent on working on prompts that I had no idea if I would have time to complete. The surprise was…I completed all 30 prompts, each day, and got to know some wonderful people and their work along the way. We were asked to complete an exit interview, and it’s taken me four days to finally succumb to the fact that this wonderful ride is really over.

The Interview:

Question 1: What happened during Oulipost that you didn’t expect. What are the best and worst moments for you?

I didn’t expect to learn as much as I did, not only about Oulipo and found poetry, but about myself and my own writing style; how even with constraints and others words (taken from the local newspaper, The Toledo Blade) that I found – my humor, my ways of seeing the world came shining through even when I’m not conscious that it’s happening. I really feel the worst moment was the day that I posted my final poem for the project. Otherwise, there was not a bad moment about the whole process.

Question 3: What does your street look like?

My street is going through a transition, just like I am…a rebirth…while my street is bursting with spring colors, and grass that is growing so fast it needs cutting already, birds that are merrily singing their songs – I am bursting with creative ideas, new projects, and singing right along. There’s also a lot of For Sale signs coming down…and going up along my street…and although I’m not going anywhere I feel like I’m moving in new directions. I can’t ignore the potholes and cracks in my road that have come about from this horrid winter we’ve had (and with how cool it’s been here…still hanging on!) and several of them were recently patched; however, some of them are wearing orange cones as hats…waiting for repairs…and waiting…and that is what some of my poems are doing… waiting…and waiting to be revised as I finish up the grading of this spring semester, catch up on reading, DVRing, and visiting with friends…that didn’t get as much attention during April.

Question 4: Who is your spirit Oulipostian?

First and foremost, I felt inspired and welcomed by all Ouliposters who I had interactions with all month. But the ones that I kept up with by either corresponding with or visiting their blog site everyday without missing: Jody Rich, Nancy Long, Margo Roby, Mary Sexson, Amanda Earl, Massimo Soranzio, Barb Crary, & James W. Moore…just to name a few!

Question 5: What are the top three poems you wrote during the project?

1. “Shaken, Then Stirred: A Jarred Version” – Canada Dry: https://lylannemusselman.wordpress.com/…/oulipost-29…/

2. “Controlled Citizens” – Column Inches:https://lylannemusselman.wordpress.com/…/oulipost-14…/

3. “Don’t Fail to Cash in on Chances” – Sonnet: https://lylannemusselman.wordpress.com/…/oulipost-12…/

Question 2: What questions do you have for your teaspoons? What questions do your teaspoons have for you?

My teaspoons would like to know why I haven’t been more vigilant with their bathing during April. They’re use to always being snug against each other safely tucked in their drawer. During April they were sprawled out all over the counter top, tossed in the sink, and soaking endlessly in various coffee cups.

I would ask them: As old as you all are, why can’t you wash yourselves?

Question 6: What will you do next?

I‘m always writing poetry, so it wouldn’t be me if I wasn’t doing that; however, writing more found poetry is definitely in my future…especially while it’s fresh on my mind. I also will be sorting out my “regular” poems to put into a couple of new manuscripts, and I have enough poems leftover to compile some chapbooks. I will also revise some of these poems from the Oulipost project in hopes of having enough to have a chapbook as well. I will also get more sleep, visit family and friends more, and enjoy the outdoors.

I’m also hopeful that a lot of us Ouliposters will keep in touch and continue sharing prompts, ideas, and poems.

This was a a grand experience!

Oulipost #30: Patchwork Quilt

Day 30. I made it. A poem everyday, composed from the Toledo Blade guided by an Oulipo prompt each day. When I started out, I had no idea what was going to happen. I keep so busy with teaching and all sorts of other writing and art commitments, that I was afraid I wouldn’t have time and this would go by the wayside. But I found that doing this became something I needed to do. It was not a burden – not any of the days this month, no matter if I was visiting family and friends in Indiana, participating in poetry readings for National Poetry Month, grading, socializing with friends, and meeting someone new. There was room for it all. I gained a lot, and I will write about that on this blog soon. For today, I’m going to present you with my last poem as one of the National Poetry Month 2014 “Official Ouliposters,”one of the 67 poets from around the world (sponsored by The Found Poetry Review) that got to participate this year and I was fortunate enough to come to know over this month. Today, in our final prompt, we were asked to do a Patchwork Quilt. A poem that compiles lines and words from every poem we’ve written this month. What I did was just go through each day and select one, sometimes two lines, from each poem and on the “Snowball” days at least two to three words from those – to compose my poem. It was interesting to see how even though I felt I was working on “Toledo” poems, several other themes came shining through more than I thought!

Without further ado, here is my Patchwork Quilt poem, a nod to the Toledo Blade, the final Oulipost prompt, and a link to read my fellow Ouliposter’s Patchwork Quilt poems:

Fairy Godmothers Are Still Making Their Magic

People are getting excited about new things.

If us, spring 2014:

To express in words, to hold within.

Spring games draw crowds

out; same-sex sure strong – human hardcore –

beyond the bold haiku of the twerk.

“Give me everything you got.”

Come on casino, chime.

Something always needs attention on the farm.

I do.


Better sex, tell her never rest.

Fortunately, fairy godmothers are still making their magic tone,

to mate another year –

circus cynic’s competition, fire-eating crisis intervention.

Same-sex crisis over, same-sex save,


and a surprising season of fresh adoptions.

Celebrate good times, expect crowds, “group hug.”


A no na = doom: pi pun,

I wish for a better world, but I also did the meaningless arithmetic.

We need inspirational storytelling to reward character’s snooping.

Host and play the next volunteers.

Developed a little reputation?

Those are passions I’d like to take with me,

solutions to the straight unwise:

declining species, vanished.

A French exhibit flavored art grateful

at a ‘show cause’ hearing – a happy day.

That’s the future.

It makes it easier, especially when love is in the air

fostering a creative rehabilitation.

Everything and anything can grow here.

Sometimes you can taste something and

just fall in love.



All lines/words in this poem came from various authors listed elsewhere on my blog the Toledo Blade. April 1-29, 2014.

Oulipost prompt:

Patchwork Quilt

Conclude the project by writing a poem that incorporates words and lines from all of your past 29 poems.

A link to my fellow Ouliposter’s poems from today:


See you soon….





Oulipost #29: Canada Dry

Wow, 29 poems down for April doing the Oulipost Project, 1 to go! Today was an interesting prompt as it was one that we were supposed to use no “formal” constraints, but make it look like there was.  So not having any rules but my own to follow, I set about just looking through The Blade for interesting phrases that I might use in composing a poem. They didn’t have to be any length or about anything in particular. Funny thing is, when I got on about the third article (of my eight used) I started to see a “theme” shining through that I hadn’t expected. Once that happened, I just kept going until I had a whole lot of lines to work with and I kept 25 of them (most in their original phrasing, only a couple that had partial use of an entire phrase). I started moving them around on the page (in my hardbound journal) until I “found” my poem. I’ve enjoyed composing quite a few other poems this month, but I have to say this one was a lot of fun. Maybe it was me being left to my own “devices” or maybe it was taking what I’d discovered about being playful with phrases and words this month and letting them make some cool leaps! Nevertheless, the phrases were taken from mostly articles about sports and food/recipes. Interesting the leaps the mind makes…or maybe it’s just mine! LOL! I hope you enjoy my Canada Dry poem! Following that are the sources used, the Oulipost prompt, and the link to see what some of my fellow Ouliposters did with their Canada Dry:

Shaken, then Stirred: A Jarred Version

We live in a natural garden, once a lake-bed,

everything and anything can grow here.

Always looking for the best –

it teaches growing skills.

We were aggressive, we were swinging.

Serve the largest pool of humanity possible –

maybe you wouldn’t wander too far

from the vanilla and the chocolate.

And, in this condition that’s about all

you’re going to get. It’s been a taffy pull,

always listening to gossip; a fourth sacrifice.

It’s been bait and catch, repeatedly. Still looking.


Still looking. Ideally, this is a two-person job.

The good fortune of wetting a line.

Focus. Don’t just drink tequila.

So, play mariachi music, and let’s talk.

After resting overnight, it was slightly tingly.

I want to experience more of that –

from Ann Arbor, I’d be staying in hotels

after late nights. Which is really what I want to do.

Sweetly vying; do it easily –

force me to go to extremes.

Spread some, continue rolling.

Sometimes you can taste something

and just fall in love.



Bilyeu, Mary. “Fiesta Time.” Toledo Blade 29 Apr. 2014. D1/6. Print.

—. “Keeping the FAQs.” Toledo Blade 29 Apr. 2014. D1. Print.

Burris, Keith C. “City’s urban gardening effort growing.” Toledo Blade 29 Apr. 2014. B1. Print.

Chavez, Jon. “Youth market may stay flat.” Toledo Blade 29 Apr. 2014. B6/7. Print.

Markey, Matt. “Fishing bounty in Ohio and Michigan a pretty easy sell.” Toledo Blade 29 Apr. 2014. C1/4. Print.

Messina, Ignazio. “State may help smooth trail.” Toledo Blade 29 Apr. 2014. B1/2. Print.

Odam, Matthew. “Master of Mexican cuisine Rick Bayless ‘always loved other cultures.'” Toledo Blade 29 Apr. 2014. D1/2. Print.

Wagner, John. “Ray still rolling.” Toledo Blade 29 Apr. 2014. C1/3. Print.


Oulipost prompt:

Canada Dry

The name of this procedure is taken from the soft drink marketed as “the champagne of ginger ales.” The drink may have bubbles, but it isn’t champagne. In the words of Paul Fournel, who coined the term, a Canada Dry text “has the taste and color of a restriction but does not follow a restriction.” (A musical example is Andrew Bird’s “Fake Palindromes.”)  Be creative, and write a poem sourced from your newspaper that sounds like it’s been Oulipo-ed, but hasn’t.

Link to fellow Ouliposter’s Canada Dry poems:


See you tomorrow!






Oulipost #28: Melting Snowball

Wow! Only two more days of Ouliposting after this. It’s sure going to feel weird not to be doing these everyday. However, anyone that knows me, knows I write everyday anyway, so that won’t change! I’m happy today’s prompt cooperated with me again, as it was one that I was able to come up with relatively fast. I needed one that fell into place pretty easily since I won’t be back at my computer until late tonight. I’ve not missed a day yet of posting on time, and getting this close to the end of the project I didn’t want to ruin my record! Today’s prompt is a Melting Snowball. Earlier in the month was a Snowball – where you start with one letter and add one until you don’t have any words that are any longer than the previous one to use. These words are, of course, sourced out of the local newspaper. It makes sense, then, that the Melting Snowball takes away one letter each time until left with only one. My article, from The Blade, jumped out at me this morning, and counting the words in my Virgo-ized organized way certainly helped. I found one that had two fourteen letter words, two thirteen, and then kept going. Once I had my list of available words, I started putting together what seemed to make an interesting poem. So, below you will find my Melting Snowball poem, the article I used, the Oulipost prompt, and a link to my fellow Ouliposter’s poems:

Potentially Saved Dogs
















Mester, Alexandra. “More food guarders killed than saved.” Toledo Blade 28 Apr. 2014. Web.

Oulipost prompt:

Melting Snowball

A text in which each word has one letter less than the preceding one, and the last word only one letter. From your newspaper, select a starting word, and then continue adding words of decreasing length from the same source article or passage. Challenge yourself further by only using words in order as you encounter them in the text.

Link to read other Ouliposter’s poems:


See you tomorrow!



Oulipost #27: Irrational Sonnet

I don’t know if it’s me, or if everyone is feeling this – but I don’t even know what day it is…I had to check. It’s Sunday! And, only three more days of Ouliposting…and as that comes to an end, so does school. The last week of classes is this week…with portfolios coming in next week. So no matter, how I cut it – my brain has been feeling pretty mushy the past few days. And, wouldn’t you know it – the prompt is the Irrational Sonnet. That only makes sense. 😉  For today’s poem, I was happy to find an article on migrating birds – as here in NW Ohio we’re coming upon The Biggest Week in American Birding in a few weeks as they cross Lake Erie into Canada just about 25 minutes east of my house. In addition, I took lines from six additional articles to come up with an Irrational Sonnet that I could live with…but alas it does not rhyme. The title of the poem is also a line I was going to use in the poem, but when I didn’t like it anywhere there – saw that it could work as the title. Following you will find my Irrational Sonnet, the sources used, the Oulipost prompt, and the link to my fellow Ouliposter’s poems from today:

The Kirtland Warbler is Quite Persnickety

Their identity isn’t tied to a neighborhood, color, ride or die attitude.

The live opportunity to view these neo-tropical migrating birds

after a long, hard winter: this is just what the doctor ordered.


It is still rare, but there is a chance you will see one.


It makes it easier, especially when love is in the air.

When the night air was hot, so were the streets –

clowns, music, thousands of birders converge on the region.

They won’t look at you, or they will look around a lot.


Don’t look for the revolving door to stop spinning anytime soon.


As American as apple pie, its needs almost led to its extinction,

stir crazy, dead at 20 because of a song –

these birds were pushed very close to the brink

there’s just no place for them to go, so they migrate

at night, increasing the risk of contact with whirring wind turbines.



Basting, Jeff & Matt Markey. “Kirtland’s Warbler makes a comeback.” Toledo Blade 27 Apr. 2014. Web.

Dungjen, Taylor. “Answers hard to find, but streets in Toledo quieter, violence falling.” Toledo Blade 27 Apr. 2014. Web.

Grand Forks Herald. “Little white lies, stretching the truth, has become a part of daily life, research shows.” Toledo Blade 27 Apr. 2014. Web.

Mullen, Roneisha. “Rating the ratings: Some parents say current systems aren’t reliable.” Toledo Blade 27 Apr. 2014. Web.

Patch, David. “Train congestion spurs headaches, safety concerns near N. Baltimore.” Toledo Blade 27 Apr. 2014. Web.

Thompson, Matt. “Downtown fun for season in Perrysburg starts Friday.” Toledo Blade 27 Apr. 2014. Web.

Wagner, John. “Tigers bullpen issues affecting Mud Hens.” Toledo Blade 27 Apr. 2014. Web.

Oulipost prompt:

Irrational Sonnet

Create a 14-line sonnet sourced from lines from your newspaper that is divided according to the first five digits of the irrational number pi – that is, into stanzas of 3, 1, 4, 1 and 5 lines. As with the preceding sonnet assignment (see April 14) you may interpret “sonnet” as formally or as loosely as you wish.

Fellow Ouliposters Poems:


See you tomorrow!

Oulipost #26: Beautiful Outlaw (Belle Absente)

Day 26 of Ouliposting finds this prompt: Beautiful Outlaw (Belle Absente) which means we were to find a name (or subject) in the newspaper and write a poem leaving out each letter of the name where it would fall in line (the entire prompt with explanation follows). Today there was an article in The Blade on John Oliver and The Daily Show. And within that article it contained the names of Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart, and David Letterman – all guys that I find quite humorous; however, I decided to use DAVID as my name to write to as he’s a native Hoosier, like me, and because he’s retiring from his show next year. Even though the poem is brief, and I know many of the Oulipo prompts don’t lend to “making sense” – I attempted to make something cohesive out of it and only used two articles. And, if every line was supposed to contain every letter of the alphabet except the ones in the chosen name – that didn’t happen. 🙂   Following is my poem for today, the sourced articles, the Oulipost prompt, and the link to other Beautiful Outlaw (Belle Absente) poems from my fellow Ouliposters:

Letterman Leaving Show to Colbert

With Colbert set to leave next year,

Oliver gone; Jon’s show retires more politic shtick,

its two most boisterous residents were missing.

That’s the future.

Late Show host Letterman leaves next year.



Bauber, David. “HBO’s John Oliver knows he owes debt to Jon Stewart.” Toledo Blade 26 Apr. 2014. Web.

Mester, Alexandra. “Toledo family reunited with dogs held 1 year in MI.” Toledo Blade 26 Apr. 2014. Web.

Oulipost prompt:

Beautiful Outlaw (Belle Absente)

The outlaw in question is the name of the person (or subject) to whom the poem is addressed. Each line of the poem includes all the letters of the alphabet except for the letter appearing in the dedicated name at the position corresponding to that of the line: when writing a poem to Eva, the first line will contain all letters except E, the second all letters except V, and the third all letters except A.

Choose someone mentioned in your newspaper to whom to address your poem. Compose a beautiful outlaw poem following the procedure outlined above and using words sourced from your newspaper text.

Link to other Ouliposter’s poems:


See you tomorrow!

Oulipost #25: Larding

Day 25 of Ouliposting finds us “Larding” or line stretching. What is that you ask? It’s taking two sentences from the local newspaper, and then “braiding” (Jody Rich) other sentences in between and adding more until you’ve got your poem. As always the actual prompt will explain what is needed. One of my first Oulipost poems this month included an article about the two dogs, Nala and Bugger, who have been sitting on death row for nearly a year, accused of killing two-show pigs after the dogs got loose from their yard. In today’s paper, there was good news! I’m happy to report that the two dogs have been released! So, obviously, I wanted to use that news as one of my source articles. I intertwined about 18 other lines from four additional articles, even if I only used a partial line from some of them. This one was fun to do once I chose my two initial lines and then went on a search for articles that might have some “conflict” or “energy” to help my “Larding” along. Below you will find my Larding poem, the sourced articles, the Oulipost prompt, and a link to my fellow Ouliposter’s poems:


It Was a Happy Day Yesterday

Nala and Bugger were deemed guilty

in July – but the original trials did not

involve satanic cults, an asylum


for the deranged, a degree away from

a hammy mad-scientist, relocating

to a crumbly country house


where supernatural evil follows-

It was there that two show-quality pigs

had been killed and a third injured.


Inspired by actual events,

the dogs had been on death row since

locked in and blasted with loud rock music.


No other living souls for miles around?

That’s progress for you –

be careful what you ask for.


Both dogs are revenge-minded

but their cattiness is put aside

in a trick box, lest both be ruined –


while their owners fought

to save them, paying homage

in style and theme to vintage


horror movies of the 1970s.

At a ‘show cause’ hearing

shocking revelations come to light.


Two dogs accused in death of pigs

are finally home, released to owners

who had not been allowed to visit them.


Original two lines:

Nala and Bugger were deemed guilty in July.   Two dogs are finally home.


Baird, Kirk. “”‘The Other Woman’ cheats on its feminist premise.” Toledo Blade 25 Apr. 2014. Web.

Dalton, Stephen. “‘Quiet Ones’ more creaky than creepy.” Toledo Blade 25 Apr. 2014. Web.

Messler, Alexandra. “Dogs accused in death of pigs released to owners.” Toledo Blade 25 Apr. 2014. Web.

Vallongo, Sally. “Toledo Opera gives ‘Faust’ hip update.” Toledo Blade 25 Apr. 2014. Web.

Wagner, John. “Polanco, Indy too much for Mud Hens.” Toledo Blade 25 Apr. 2014. Web.

Oulipost prompt:


Aka “line stretching.” From your newspaper text, pick two sentences. Add a new sentence between the first two; then two sentences in the new intervals that have become available; and continue to add sentences until the passage has attained the length desired. The supplementary sentences must either enrich the existing narrative or create a new narrative continuity.

Link to read other Ouliposter’s Larding poems:


See you tomorrow!