Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A Constrained Creation: The Seussical Saga

A Constrained Creation: The Seussical Saga

The tale here composed is not for the faint,
For I sought to write it with particular constraint.
To rhyme, I concluded, would be challenge enough
To assist me in producing some thoughtful stuff.

You see, Dr. Seuss, is the imaginative mind
Who inspired in me a most creative design.
Sharing his story will bring me much joy,
As many great books I will get to employ.

And so we begin a tale full of wit
With a young lad, bright, not lacking in grit.
His successes were few in his early years,
But with patience and practice, resulted in cheers.

When challenge arose, he ran not away
But risked his own pride. With courage, he stayed!
Given just 50 words to write a grand slam,
He produced what we know fondly as "Green Eggs and Ham."

That's right, Sam I am! Dr. Seuss is the man.
And that's not the last time he proved that he can.
Literacy was low back in those times
And Seuss was invited to lay down more rhymes.

As proven before, constraint paved the way
For this scintillating poet's persuasive array.
With only a first grader's lexicon to consult
Seuss constructed a story with fantastic result.

The Cat in the Hat found its way to the presses
Kids and parents alike were enthralled by its messes.
See Seuss had found the ideal motivation
To energize his writing and entertain the whole nation.[1]

Adding constraints to the challenge of writing a book
Helped Seuss to refine and define his nook.
Often a commentary on social reform
Seuss used his characters to urge and inform.

From wartime propaganda to the Watergate scandal
No polemical story was too unwieldy to handle.
This all while using a particular vocab
That was accessible to kids, exciting, not drab.

It was easy to cramp this perfectionist's style.
To articulate his yarns took more than awhile.[2]
Whole years he would take to compose some parts
Though with only 50 words, he had it down to an art.

So you'd best not forget to take a good look,
Put aside a few minutes, and pick up a book!
Shelf after shelf, don’t hesitate to plunder!
Explore the wide world of Seussical wonder.

[1] In the chapter on “An Investment Approach
to Creativity: Theory and Data,” it is revealed that motivation effects creativity on an upside down U shaped curve. There is an ideal level of motivation. Too much or too little can result in lessened creativity as the pressure to create might lead the creative to a block. It seems as though Seuss had found the optimal level of motivation for his creative process. Externally provided constraints and goals, paired with his desire to contribute to political conversations of the day were just enough motivation to result in dialect.
[2] As articulated in the Lubart and Sternberg article, many creatives require more time than normal to develop and approve of their pieces. This is true of Seuss with many of his works. See Creative Realism, page 273.


  1. The grade you receive had better be ample,
    for this blog post provides a perfect example.
    Creativity starts with problem solving you see?
    So step up here Bob and give more than a B!

  2. Annie, the words that you shared gave such deep insight
    and proved that the pen truly has greater might.
    I hope other readers may dwell and concede
    that no greater joy is found when we read.


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