Thursday, February 22, 2007

Welcome to CENTO BINGO

CENTO BINGO is an online sideline of Forklift, Ink. edited by Clay Poetry Series organizers Brett Price & Evan Commander, and published by Eric Appleby & Matt Hart.

Here are the rules according to Matt Hart:


1. Buy (or make) some of those cheap-o BINGO cards that are available pretty much anywhere (esp. in a Catholic stronghold like Cincinnati—where BINGO is a way of life—not to mention a way of raising funds). A BINGO Card contains 24 numbered spaces and one free space (blank), with which you play BINGO. The numbers are assigned at random on each card and are arranged in five columns of five numbers each by five rows (5 x 5 = 25 in total including the blank square).

2. Get together with pals for dinner and drinking. As part of the festivities dig through your favorite poetry, cookbooks, art books, science books, etc. Pick out lines in batches of 75 (see below) for CENTO BINGO use—reading aloud and discussing how your choices work as lines is greatly encouraged—maybe crucial. Use a variety of lines in many styles and from many periods. Or, for fun pick out a 75 lines (again, see below) all of which begin with I, or which have a proper name in them or the name of an animal, etc. Or, for the themed version pick out lines from Beat Poets or the Romantics or L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E only… Pick out only lines from The New American Poetry: 1945-1960 or back issues of your favorite journal, or cookbooks, technical manuals etc.…

3. Write each line on a small strip of paper. Number the strips 1-75 [which is how Bingo cards are numbered— The numbers in the B column are between 1 and 15, in the I column between 16 and 30, in the N column (containing four numbers and the free space) between 31 and 45, in the G column between 46 and 60, and in the O column between 61 and 75]. When you get to the end of the first set of 75, start numbering again from 1.

4. Now you’re ready to play CENTO BINGO, which is just like playing BINGO, except when you call out a number it’s attached to a line (which is read out loud, heckled hooted and otherwise discussed), so when the person gets a BINGO it’s actually a CENTO, which is then read out loud to the group. As the numbers are called out participants mark the corresponding numbers on their cards with a highlighter, etc. In Cento Bingo the Free Space offers some interesting possibilities, e.g. allow winners who use the Free Space in their win to use any line called in the game, or perhaps better yet allow them to make up their own line on the spot!

5. Other CENTO BINGO possibilities: Imagine walking into a workshop on day 1 and passing out BINGO cards… Imagine using this as a way to teach poetry to school children—even really young ones. Imagine having multiple CENTO BINGO games/readings going in a variety of cities simultaneously (perhaps hosted and called by featured readers—Dean Young hosting a BINGO game, reading lines from the Vast knows where out loud), then publishing all the “winning” CENTOS on the CENTO BINGO Blog and/or in a little journal called CENTO BINGO (of course), paid for with the proceeds of the game (we could charge 25 cents a card) and sent out to all the participants in all the cities for free… Allow only CENTO BINGO winners to submit other non-CENTO BINGO poems for consideration on the site or in the journal (thus, perhaps, encouraging people everywhere to play the game, both for the fun of it and as a means of community building in the face of clique-y posturing)… Allow winners to use their winning centos as primary material for other poems that get published in CENTO BINGO… etc.