Oulipost #26: Beautiful Outlaw (Belle Absente)

Today’s challenge: “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.”

In reading the 04/26/14 New York Times, I felt compelled to select the name Maren to honor a sixteen-year-old stabbing victim who was killed in her high school on the day of her junior prom. I selected words from articles and letters to the enter that were on the topic of education, including the article about Maren’s Death. It should be noted that I was unable to find a word containing the letter “z” that did not also include the letter “e” – thus, there is no “z” word in the fourth sentence.

For Maren

In their high quality tuxedos and dresses, they find no way to apologize for the stabbing, just an attacker and his raw violence.

Network: the hopes of dozens of friends, vigil instituted by students to extend the requirement of justice to this victim.

Six dejected student witnesses saw no hospital equipment, no investigation, just the knife that stabbed the dying Ms. Sanchez.

An invitation to loss and mourning: Finding no quick lawsuit fix, a majority of officials campaign in opposition to stabbing in schools.

A prom drama: who will criticize, who will seek quick justice, who will tax the system, who will advocate for this beautiful girl?

Sources: Schweber, Nate & Schwirtz, Michael. “Girl Fatally Stabbed at School in Connecticut on Day of Prom,” pp. A1 and A17. Hurdle, Jon.”Shortfall May Force More Cuts at Philadelphia Schools,” p. A13. Rich, Motoko. “Obama Administration Plans New Rules to Grade Teacher Training Programs,” p. A12. Rich, Motoko. “A Walmart Fortune, Spreading Charter Schools,” p. A1 and A14. I also used selected letters to the editor concerning education policy on page A18.


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