Mr. Glen Powell’s 7th period freshman English class was asked to try their hand at a famous literary challenge called a “lipogram,” which is a special way of doing creative writing while restricted by a particular rule. Their inspiration was the work of Ernest Vincent Wright, an aging ex-Navy man, who back in 1939 published a 50,000 word novel written without using the letter “e.” The title of this revolutionary book was “Gadsby” and its provocative theme was the ability of young people to band together and change the world for the better. In the first chapter of Wright’s book he proclaims: ” It is an account of up-and-doing activity; a vivid portrayal of Youth as it is today; and a practical discarding of that worn-out notion that “a child don’t know anything.”
I invite all Rampage readers to try writing a single sentence in English without using an “e”! It isn’t easy, but trying to write this way will teach you that grammar and syntax (or how you arrange your words) are as important to creating a meaningful sentence as any specific words you may want to use. We publish the lipogram below by MCSM students Allen Delgado, Joel Rosas, and Andrew Martin as an example of how literary experiments like this can make us more creative and help us re-think the way language works. .
Lipogram Experiment One: Without the Letter “e”
by Allen L. Delgado
My world is only a world that I can fish in. I catch salmon, blowfish, clown fish, star fish, rainbow fish, crabs, and baby octopus. Too many fish for only 1 fishing rod! I wish to catch a lot, so I can sail away and catch sharks. A shark is the 1 thing I want for my wall. My wall will always want a shark, but catching a shark is difficult. I could always complain about my fish, but a fish is nothing to complain about. A fish for lunch is digit-licking good! My Mrs. is always cooking fish for us both. “Aloha” is our word to say: “I got a good catch of fish.” Our island may sound difficult but it’s ours and anybody can visit. Food around our island is digit-licking good. Also, with no bugs around our island, visiting is not so difficult.
Lipogram Experiment Two: Without the Letter “e”
By Joel Rosas
If you want to go on living in a bad part of the city, the most important thing to avoid is gang fights. Fights may occur daily, so run away if you can! Living with a family that has good habits is very good luck. I’m not just talking about a rich or a poor family. All you should wish for is a good mom and dad and siblings that support you. My dad has a passion for the old world. Football (a word this sport is known by in Spanish) is a sport that is popular in the old world. My dad and his pals would play this sport for fun and inspiration. Inspiration is important. I want to show the business world that the sky is my limit. I’m hoping to work my way upwards, and as my final stop, to stand happily on top of this world. Anything can occur. I study in school thinking about what I may obtain many months from now, or six to 10 birthdays from now. So although I want good things quickly, I am willing to wait. Probably by 2025 or so I will attain my final goal.
Lipogram Experiment Three: Without the Letter “e”
By Andrew Martin
I am a Fashion Killa, you know what I’m saying? If not, know that I rock clothing that shows that I’m such as Polo—singular and full of distinction. All individuals should show off singular skills, so I rock classic high fashion in my own way. Anyway, you should know I don’t go for anything dubious, so you must only say God’s own truth if you want to stay in my company. I’m talking words from a dictionary so as to comply with the laws of a lipogram. My instructor bans that tiny part of a word or linguistic construction that sits betwixt “d” and “f,” and so far my work fits this harsh command. My story suits this command to a “t”, and I will brook no opposition on that front!!! I think humans should not always do what is right so as not to look corny or boring to critical school pals. But I only worry what school pals say if I’m not proud of how I look. On warm days I rock shorts. On cold days I may rock pants or bottoms of all kinds. Attention and admiration from ordinary mortals brings out the best quality in my soul. What looks good on most Hollywood stars—short, tall, fat, or skinny—always looks good on my body. No, I’m not vain, I just want to claim my status as a man of unusual sartorial gifts.