Sweat Themes: Turned-type and Upside-down Poetry

Crossing the cliuewau: poetry with material, typographical swerve

Table of Discontents

Not, it must be admitted, about indexes, but I recently wrote a blog piece for another site about an Oulipo-style writing exercise I’d done. In a nutshell, I wanted to see how much turned-type errors (letters which accidentally get spilled onto the floor then reinserted upside-down during printing) could alter the meaning of a work if we assumed that they were a lot more virulent than they probably are. To this end, I wrote a computer programme to determine how many of the words used by Shakespeare could form other valid words if one or more of their letters were flipped upside down (e.g. map can become mad, etc.). The next step was to try to write something that used as many of these words as possible, and which would be thematically coherent in one sense with the words one way up, and in another if they were flipped.

The…

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