My Spirit Oulipian

My Spirit Oulipian

Georges Perec and friend – such a Parisian cat!
I know now that I made a good choice.

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Oulipo Challenge – April, 2014

I am excited to have the opportunity to work with the Oulipost community of poets as we celebrate National Poetry Month in April by writing found poetry based on the daily newspaper.  For my first assignment, I’ve been asked to answer five interview questions.

1. What excites you about Oulipost?  I wrote my initial response to this question based on the challenge itself which excites me because it will encourage me to move in a new direction, that of found poetry, and will allow me to exercise my poetic muscles and build my skills.  I’m eager to see the final poems that other participants generate, given the constraint of each daily assignment. Having read more about Oulipost itself, so that I could answer Interview Question #5 below, I am excited to learn more about this movement, the people behind it and the works they’ve created.

2. What, if anything, scares you about Oulipost? I am a novice poet despite my relatively advanced age and I’m concerned about my ability to keep up with this group in terms of quality and quantity.  Frankly, I’m a bit intimidated by the number of published poets in the group, even though I look forward to working with all of them.

3. Have you written experimental or found poetry before?  No.

4. What newspaper will serve as your source text?  Although it’s not strictly my hometown paper, I subscribe to the New York Times and it will be my source text.

5.  Who’s your spirit Oulipian?  I’ve chosen Georges Perec, in part for his early biography, in that his family were Polish Jews who emigrated to Paris in the 1920′s with his father serving in the French Army in WWII (dying of his wounds) and his mother perishing at Auschwitz.  Georges was able to survive through the kindness of an aunt and uncle who took him in.  This is a period of history and a portion of our human legacy that I have struggled to understand over the years.  Perec went on, from relatively modest circumstances, to create novels, radio plays and films, and as a member of the Oulipo group, he explored the idea constraint in a variety of ways. Having read Eunoia by Christian Bök, I was especially drawn to Perec’s book,  A Void, a work in which the constraint was the omission of the letter “e.” When reading about this book, I was struck by a reviewer’s comment that because Perec’s own name contains so many “e’s” he was, in some sense, beginning to erase himself, perhaps as his family and his people had been erased previously.  I want Perec as my spirit Oulipian to help me embrace the constraint of each day’s assignment as fully as I can.