Univocals

No cool monsoons blow soft on Oxford dons

19th century poet, C.C Bombaugh

This is a univocal.  The best known contemporary example is by the Canadian poet, Christian Bök, who has written a book called Eunoia. The word means “beautiful thinking”, and is the shortest one in English to contain all the vowels.  Bök uses just one vowel in each of the five chapters.  He spent seven years compiling the book, and read the dictionary five times (once for each vowel, I assume) looking for words that contained just one vowel.  He then arranged the words into nouns, verbs and other parts of speech, and finally into groups of words.  Chapter A begins, “Awkward grammar appalls a craftsman”, E begins, “Enfettered, these sentences repress free speech” and so on.

The reason I know all this (which I didn’t just two weeks ago) is because one of the courses I am taking this semester for my MFA in creative writing, is in Experimental Forms.  It seems that experimental writers regard the word as an end in itself and the meaning as incidental, and the idea reminded me of the composers of the 2nd Viennese School—Schönberg, Berg and Webern—writing tone rows that were an interesting exercise in experimentation with note patterns, with melody being incidental.

Well, we had an exercise in the class, experimenting with univocals, and I decided to write a piece taking an art form per paragraph, and writing five sentences about each one, using the vowels sequentially.  It almost fried my brain.  Believe me, it’s more complicated than it seems!

Arts Enter In On Us

Abstract art appalls at that BMA!  Clever rebels get fervent respect.  I find this gimmick inhibiting.  Old-school or rococo works (or so on) look good to snobs.  Thus must such spurn much muck.

Act as act can.  Helen’s “Tempest” left me tense.  “Wit” is mimicking ill sighings.  Orks or hoods off good folks.  Much fun but just dumb stuff.

All cha-cha backwards fast.  We jeté here, we jeté there, we even jeté hence.  Grisi grins, primps, highlights high lifts.  Lots go crosstown to do bop or bold rock.  Dump tutu! Dump pumps! Jump up!

Alan Alda’s madcap dash was M*A*S*H.  We sense E.T.’s dejectedness, we weep when he’s bereft, yet nevertheless we feel cheer.  Hit films will instill in critics sniping scribblings.  Porn or schlock won’t go over so don’t show off.  Shun such junk but trust pluck!

As Ax taps an A-flat and plays a fast rat-a-tat, all “Ah!” and clap—what a blast! We feel the reverence.  Still, if I blink I miss it.  Bow slow rondos, Yo-Yo, don’t bow too gross!  Just strum—thrum thrum!

Ahab’s saga has an awkward arc.  The esteemed Mr. Beebe sees pretenses, even repressed needs.  This ring brings limits in insight whilst it highlights its illicit might.  Go, Frodo, go!  Such stuff churns up hurts, turns up truths.

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