Snowballs!

by Thom Kiraly

After spending an evening reading New Media Poetics for school, encountering the acronym OULIPO several times I finally had to look it up. “Looking up” here means checking wikipedia, a decent source for quick overviews, but often terrible when looking for clarification and insights. It turns out that (according to the wikipedia article at least) OULIPO stands for Ouvroir de littérature potentielle; roughly translated: “workshop of potential literature”. I wasn’t planning on going too much deeper than that, I did after all need to get back to my reading, but something about the concept of constrained writing (not that alien to me in and of itself) intrigued me and the technique described as “Snowball” immediately stood out from the others. A snowball is described as a “poem in which each line is a single word, and each successive word is one letter longer [than the preceding one].”

I did, eventually, finish my reading, but before that I completed two short snowball poems – one in English and one in Swedish. Note: I didn’t count the punctuation as part of the words. Here they are:

———-

I
en
vit
bild
fanns
trygga
pojkars
svåraste
uniformer.
Arbetslösa
fångvaktare:
oliktänkande,
kontrollerade,
avgiftsbelagda,
frihetsberövade.

————

A
no
has
said:
“maybe”,
unsure.
Wittily
pointing
suggested
undertones
poetrywards.

————

I’m not even sure that “poetrywards” is a correct use of the suffix -ward, but fuck it, I think it works.
If you write any snowballs of your own, feel free to post them as comments bel(l)ow.

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