You’ve probably been wondering what you are going to do during April, National Poetry Month. I mean, it is coming right up. No time to write every day? Tired of the same old prompts you see every year? Then sit back and let the folks at the Found Poetry Review rock it out for you.
Once again, the Found Poetry Review is sponsoring a month long poetry collaboration. We’ve seen The Found Poetry Project bringing guerrilla poetry into the community, the creative explosion that was The Pulitzer Remix Project, and this year Oulipost! Over seventy writers from around the world will tackle daily Oulipo constraints, using locally sourced daily papers as their source material. These poems will be posted, for all to see, both on individual blogs and websites, and by links at The Found Poetry Review.
And just what, you ask, is Oulipo? Fair question; I had to look it up myself. Oulipo stands for Ouvroir de littérature potentielle. This, roughly translated, means “workshop of potential literature”. Founded in 1960, and continuing through the present day, Oulipo is a loose gathering of (mainly) French-speaking writers and mathematicians who seek to create works using constrained writing techniques. Poetic forms you’ve never heard of before (at least I hadn’t) – Snowball, Larding, Chimera, Beautiful Outlaw. Sounds pretty cool, doesn’t it?
In preparation for this venture, FPR has asked the Ouliposters to answer a few interview questions about their take on the project. So, here goes –
FPR – What excites you about Oulipost?
Certainly the constraints – there are a lot of forms here which I’ve never used before, and I’m very excited to try them. It’s also an honour to be expanding the Oulipo universe, and continuing that tradition. Most of all, though, I’m excited to be part of such a large and diverse community of writers – communicating, helping and inspiring each other.
FPR – What, if anything, scares you about Oulipost?
The math. No, seriously, the math. And the sestina. But really, the biggest challenge for me, with these forms, will be my own need to be in control. I love poetry, I want other people to love poetry, and so I have a bias towards producing poems that are not going to scare off readers by being too obscure. Some of these forms are just not going to allow for that, and I am going to have to find it in myself to let the form be what it is, and find the beauty in it.
FPR – Have you written experimental or found poetry before? If so, tell us about it.
I’d say that there is a little found poetry in almost anything I write – an epigraph, a quote I heard, a slice of a lyric, all of these are likely starting points for a poem. I’ve also done more formal found poetry, and participated in FPR’s Pulitzer Remix Project; my source text was the H.L. Davis novel Honey in the Horn. I discovered that my writing began to change over the course of the project. Over time, I became less swayed by the mood of the text, and was more able to direct my own sensibilities into the poems.
I’m certainly familiar with experimental poetry, and have tried my hand at it through some online engines, but this will be the first time I’ve created a large group of experimental poems.
FPR – What newspaper will serve as your source text?
Mostly the Boston Globe, but I am from Maine, and spend quite a bit of time there. I’m hoping to have a chance to use some of the Maine local papers as well, such as the Portland Press Herald and the Lewiston Daily Sun.
FPR – Who is your spirit Oulipan?
I’m going to choose Michele Audin. She refused to accept the Legion of Honor because Nicolas Sarkozy had failed to respond to a letter from her mother. I’m unduly fond of anyone who is willing to thumb his/her nose at convention and authority.