Poetry Octathlon Rules Laid Bare

by Mike Freakman

London, Aug. 10  (AHP2 News Service)  –– The Interlocal Poetry Olympics Committee (IPOC) announced today the eagerly anticipated rules for the first Poetry Octathlon Event (POE), which will be played at the Fall 2012 Olympics in Rangoon. Salvage Holding, Olympic Poetry Commissioner (OPC), said that those wishing to enter the qualifying trials should submit their entries on-line at http://where-the-sun-don’t-shine-&-the-moon’s-just-another-word-for-fading-memory.com.  All fully completed entries will be compensated with a check for $100, paid for by the universal poetry tax (UPT).    

“The Octathlon must be performed at a single sitting, with one hour devoted to each plank, for an overall 8-hour time limit,” Holding explained. Since this will be a Massive On-line Poetry Event (MOPE), time constraints will be self-governing. Rollweck: the Watch-that-Comes-with-a-Kimmelweck bun® is an official sponsor of IPOC and many MOPE competitors will be using Rollweck® stopwatches. A stopwatch is an increasingly necessary tool for contemporary on-the-go poets who use timed sequences as prosodic devices. “The Rollweck® Olympics Poetry Initiative (ROPI) is an international philanthropic program,” Holding explained, “created to assist average, disappointed poets to become somebodies instead of the nobodies that they are, let’s face it.”

Holding itemized the planks of the Octathlon, which has its original source in ancient Greek literary games that were common among Dionysian cults:

1. Serial: 20 sentences taken from 20 different existing sources, which must include reference to all 7 continents, one Classical and one modern literary allusion, one reference to a TV series, one quotation from a popular song, and one reference to a Rollweck watch; points deducted for homogeneity of sources. (South Americans may opt to refer to America as one continent.)

2. Elliptical: Field layout with 1 to 6 words per line, 24 lines total, and no lines connectable into complete sentences, on an environmental or ecological theme. Poems should emphasize poise and gracefulness with deductions for abrupt juxtapositions, visible faktura, or threatening formal affect.

3. Free style: 14 lines.

4. Erotic: 10 lines focused on transgression, including at least one mention or allusion to a sexual organ or act and one reference to a beef on weck sandwich.

5. Scenic: Epiphanic first-person lyric turning on a transformation during or after an everyday activity or uncanny encounter with family member, friend, teacher, farm animal, or pet. Must include a loosely related anecdote about an ephemeral childhood or adolescent experience. 17 lines made up of broken complete sentences; no discernable alliteration, assonance, disjunction, or rhyme.

6. Poetics: 500-word essays on a single poem first published in the past two calendar years. The essay must include one close reading of a passage, a justified claim for aesthetic merit, a biographically relevant fact, a categorizing of the poem’s style giving one contemporary and one historical comparison, and an analysis of one hidden and one apparent ideological feature of the poem

7. Appropriation: 1000 words taken without editing from a single existing source; 3 to 12 words must be altered in a difficult-to-detect manner.

8. Political subject matter: 6 rhyming hexameter couplets making explicit reference to recent political injustice, social issue, or catastrophe. Probable cause must be identified.

•4th issue of S/N: NewWorldPoeticcs and free pdfs of earlier issues

•Gerald Bruns on Attack of the Difficult Poems and David Antin's Radical Coherency
•Three Compositions on Philosophy and Literature (1972):

A reading of Gertrude Stein’s The Making of Americans through Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations

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