Alumni, faculty entries in PAW’s constrained-writing contest

Yana Kane-Esrig ’85

Celebrate Constraints

Constraints challenge complacency, confront confusion, curb crass consumerism.  

Constrained capabilities catalyze communications, collaboration, creativity.  

Courtesy constrains crankiness. Calm compassion constrains clashing creeds.  

Celebrate constraints!  

Sally Van Doren ’84

Here is a poem from a five-poem series I wrote called “Found Lipograms.” These lipograms each omit one vowel and borrow language from other sources of literature, such as poems and essays.  In “Found Lipogram II,” the letter “e” is not used. The poem owes a debt to Robert Frost’s poem, “Two Tramps in Mud Time.”  

Found Lipogram II

Splitting my avocation in two

I found tramps walking back

and forth through an unimportant

cloud in my soul’s mind. I told

my hulking visitors to lurk

in that wood which rocks

soft and smooth in my sunlit

mortal logic. My arch right might

not sway nothing’s living will,

but most of my moist crystal

hoof prints (possum thoughts,

blossom songs) look to witching-  

wands for warm frosts, wind  

without a chill. I must block out  

months of snow to control this

mud color blowing out of pond

and brook. My ruts hold spring

at bay. You’d think I had a foot  

to grip what my tooth tools miss,  

but I don’t. I show things I won’t  

know in April and May. Blown  

aloft, my fools and I stay with our  

common jobs; for good, for play.

Robert J. Vanderbei, professor of operations research and financial engineering

I love wpdorlay. In waht is wttrein hree, eevry wrod has been scearmlbd as

fololws: The frist letetr and the last lteter of ecah word are left in pclae

but the mldide ltteres are rnldomay scmrlbaed. It is aazinmg that such

mesesd up wtiring is stlil mtsloy libelge.

(Not a serious contender, I’m sure, but thought I might point out that the only anagram of “teach” is “cheat.”)

Aaron Snyder ’60

I know of no aberration that elicits less sympathy than obsession with palindromes; even my otherwise delightful children disappear when I offer my oeuvre. So I’m very glad to have someone look at these four (in order of increasing length).

1. Sign at an animal shelter: Step on no pets.   

2. Confusion at roulette table: Red now I wonder

3. Cost of unconstrained passion: Eros won I now sore.

4. Anti-sorcery screed: Deliver evil eye live reviled.

G.C. Hildebrand ’64

With regard for Professor Katz’s search for palindromes:

Scrawled in a phone booth in the Cornell Modern Indonesia Project (I remember it from some time in the early ’80s): “Dam! I saw a nut not net a ten-ton tuna! Was I mad!”

My own from the early ’90s:   “Eton Note: Sore buns? Snub Eros!”

Keep up the good work – which must be something on the order of tracking endless “ear-worms”...

Rob Bernstein ’08

This is the palindrome I came up with while on a flight: “No, it an elk city tickle nation!”

N. Pike Johnson Jr. ’59

Please profusely praise popular prolifically publishing Princeton philosophy professors – probably persuasively pragmatic.

David V. Forrest ’60

Aardvarks accept ennui.

Llamas hiss, kittens purr,

Puppies wiggle free.

Robbers, revving,

Skiing, trekking,

Dizzily suffer

Vacuum powwows,

Summer wedding foods.

Hh jj qq xx yy