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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A Rag Man

Or, A Nag Mar. This and the title of today's post are two anagrams of the word anagram. (An anagram is a rearrangment of a set of letters into a new set of words. For example, the letters in the name Clint Eastwood can be rearranged to read Old West Action.)

Such wordplay seems a natural for use in poetry, doesn't it? Well, it never occurred to me to try it until I ran across some poets who already had.

My first experience with anagrams used in poetry was when I read Peter Pereira's Anagrammer, which you can read and listen to at the link, and I strongly recommend you do.

My next experience was with the many anagram poems in Kelli Russell Agodon's book Letters from the Emily Dickinson Room. Here's a poem of hers I found online, called Believing Anagrams, but you have to scroll down, click on the correct interview, then scroll to the middle of the interview to find the poem, and even then the formatting looks to be off. Anyway, you can get the idea.

So how does a poet come up with anagrams for poems? I can't imagine doing it myself, even though I'm pretty good with palindromes (words or phrases that read the same backwards as forwards, like the infamous Madam, I'm Adam). So it seemed to me like anagram poetry was out of the question.

However, I recently found out that there are online tools which create anagrams for you (not that I'm suggesting that the two poets above used tools like this; they may have worked them out with their heads--I don't know). Here's one online tool called Internet Anagram Server (and there are many others you can find using your favorite search engine). You just type in the word or phrase you want an anagram for, and the anagram maker spits out a list (you may need to be patient for a few seconds though). Sometimes a list of hudreds in fact. And here's a hint: I read somewhere that at least 11 letters are recommended for optimal anagram building.

You can even get anagrams for your own name. I just found out one for mine is Cajoled Egos If Owls.

Even with the help of online anagram finders, I still haven't managed to write an anagram poem. If you do, feel free to share your success with me here.


drew said...

OH, that's fun!

I will now be known as "Nerdy Worm."

Thanks for the grins.

- Drew Myron (aka Mend Worry)

Jessica Goodfellow said...

LOVE both your name anagrams, Drew. Must go back and study my list of hundreds more carefully!

Claire said...

Thanks for introducing a fun pastime! I tried my name in the site you suggested, but it gave up and told me there were too many possibilities. So I tried another, only to be faced with over 74,000 alternatives ... I'm up to around number 8,000 so far, and am trying to decide whether I prefer being a "macabre idle hen" or an "amicable red hen." And I did try putting some of results together in a sort of order ("sort of" being the operative word): not that you'd ever call this a poem, but it was fun!

He men: a bad relic
He men: bridal ace
He men: ribald ace
Aha! Credible men!

A bad lecher mine
A dab lecher mine

Merlin, a cad be he
Bridal menace, he
A dance rebel, him
He be a rancid elm
He bled in camera

Hire bald menace
Delhi bar menace
I’d menace her lab

A blade mince her
Maniac bled here

A banal medic here

I’m a cad rebel hen
A menarche bled I

A bare chin led me
Ambiance led her

Nice Arab held me
He in caramel bed
A dream niche bed
A nice held amber

He’d a nice marble
He’d a nice ramble

Cheer in a bedlam

Admiral, be hence!

Jessica Goodfellow said...

Claire, these are great! He in caramel bed!

I decided to try my married name, and got some good ones.

Season Juice
Ouiji Scenes
Cease, Join Us!
As Junco I See

I like the last one especially since there are juncos in my book.....

Jessica Goodfellow said...

Sorry to Claire and others who commented here. Blogger had problems and the comments that were made during a certain time period were erased. My apologies.