|Harry Mathews |
for Martin Gardner
do you enjoy
does word play
are you confused?
This is a snowball,
A poetic form which
was created by those
who group themselves
with the name of Oulipo.
Every line contains one
Additional letter. U like?
Here, by Harry Mathews, is a 15-line snowball poem in which each line is a single word; notice, also, in each of these poems, the match between the form and its subject.
One also may write syllable-based or word-based snowballs; here are examples--first my own syllable-based growing snowball "Numbers" and then "But" by
Numbers by JoAnne Growney
joined by zero,
paired to opposites—
these build the integers,
base for construction of more
new numbers from old: ratios,
radical roots and transcendentals,
transfinite cardinals—conceptions bold!
And I wanted to tell her my dream that she would be satisfied with me
that the importance she ascribed to having an actively nonmonogamous sexual life would fade
that in my mind she would find a community as diverse as any
in my hands would be revealed a language of new gestures
in my eyes were swimming visions sufficient to orient a superlative future
in my face were unfamiliar expressions waiting to emerge
in my voice were the murmurs of many
in my ears were a thousand songs
in my feet a world map
that I had been building
I had been learning
had been storing
Interested readers can learn more of snowballs and their effects in an online article entitled "Snowballs and Other Numerate Acts of Textuality" by David M. Rieder of North Carolina State University. This page of work by Ian Monk contains several Oulipian works; scroll down to find "Snowballing and Melting."