Lipogram: a text in which a given letter or set of letters is deliberately left out (Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics)

Absence Where As (Claude Cahun and the Unopened Book) by Nathanaël (Nathalie Stephens) preserves the French in its Englished form and presents the following lipogrammatic play

fa ille

“FA ILLE” stands as the title of a section of the book. And at first seems to be a simple illustration of “broken” [faille] by placing a space like a missing link in the chain of letters. It is only later that the reader comes to understand the omitted is “m”. “Not so long ago, I pointed to the minute distance between la famille (family) and la fa ille (fault line … flaw … rift).”

To render in English is a challenge. And in the end it is by substitution rather than subtraction that we arrive at some semblance of a cognate.

bro ken
bro kin

So the first step was to take the breaking to the visual aspect of the word which yields “bro ken” which semantically exposes the “bro” of bromance and brotherhood along with the “ken” of knowing. We bring back the family with “kin” and use italics to mark the break in “brokin”. And so we skim the skin of language.

Trying another poet and going from English to French: Harryette Mullen


Supermarket with the dropped “u are”. Almost impossible. There are two directions tugging…

Vous êtes

Reduplications may come close to the effect of overlay of S*PeRM**K*T and SUPERMARKET.


And if one is to enter wholly the neologism phase, one can tack on the verb “to be” (être) one comes close to the suffix for shop (boulangerie, bijouterie).


Not quite satisfying. We are far from the procedures of the lipogram. And still missing the sperm element. We begin again taking advantage of some mirroring effects: giving the supermarket a proper name…

Supermarché Spermeville

We have lost the inflection towards being. It is almost impossible to bury the “tu es” in the “supermarché”. And so we turn bilingual and bring back the English in abbreviated form “u r”


Spe salvi. By hope in markets we are saved. But the sperm has wiggled away again.

And so for day 1219

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