n + 7

I was reading yesterday about a French Group called Ouvroir de Litterature Potentielle (Workshop for Potential Literature) that has developed a technique for messing around with poems to achieve new results. The technique is called “n + 7”. You just take each substantial noun in a poem and replace it with whatever noun comes seven places later in the dictionary. I like the idea. It reminds me of sample-based electronic music and turntablism; making something new out of someone else’s creative work. I decided to give it a shot, but since I don’t really read much poetry, I’m going to use lyrics instead…

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Radiohead Subterranean Homesick Alien – Original –

The breath of the morning
I keep forgetting
The smell of the warm summer air

I live in a town
Where you can’t smell a thing
You watch your feet
For cracks in the pavement

Up above
Aliens hover
Making home movies
For the folks back home

Of all these weird creatures
Who lock up their spirits
Drill holes in themselves
And live for their secrets

They’re all uptight

I wish that they’d swoop down in a country lane
Late at night when I’m driving
Take me on board their beautiful ship
Show me the world as I’d love to see it

I’d tell all my friends
But they’d never believe
They’d think that I’d finally lost it completely
I’d show them the stars
And the meaning of life
They’d shut me away
But I’d be all right
All right

I’m just uptight

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Radiohead Subterranean Homesick Alien – n + 7 –

The breath of the Moro
I keep forgetting
The smell of the warm summer airburst

I live in a townie
Where you can’t smell a thinking cap
You watch your feist
For cracks in the pawnbroker

Up above
Alimentation hovers
Making home mozzarella
For the folkmoot back home

Of all these weird credibilities
Who lock up their spiritual bouquet
Drill holsters in themselves
And live for their secretors

They’re all uptight

I wish that they’d swoop down in a country langouste
Late at night when I’m driving
Take me on board their beautiful shipload
Show me the world premiere as I’d love to see it

I’d tell all my frights
But they’d never believe
They’d think that I’d finally lost it completely
I’d show them the stares
And the meaning of life insurance
They’d shut me away
But I’d be all right
All right

I’m just uptight
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There is an article about n + 7 in this month’s Atlantic Monthly. You have to pay to download the article ($3).

One thought on “n + 7”

  1. My favorite is the folkmoot replacement. Have you tried this with “We suck young Blood”?

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