|"The more constraints one imposes, the more one frees oneself of the chains that shackle the spirit... the arbitrariness of the constraint only serves to obtain precision of execution."|
OULIPO is the Ouvroir de Littérature Potentielle, or Workshop of Potential Literature, a group of writers and mathematicians. Members include Raymond Queneau, François Le Lionnais, Claude Berge, Georges Perec, and Italo Calvino.
This laboratory of literary structures produced, among other works, Queneau's outlandish book: Cent Mille Milliards de Poèmes, which indeed offers the reader one hundred trillion (1014) poems.
Among the many peculiar procedures developed by Oulipo is the S+7 method, where each substantive or noun in a given text, such as a poem, is systematically replaced by the noun to be found seven places away in a chosen dictionary. The results are far more provocative than might be expected.
The poems offered here are the humble fruits of this method.
Some of these poems have been to set to music. Others have been slowly yellowing.
More thorough-going researches are currently being carried out in an obscure and semi-derelict laboratory, the Mappery of Abductive Poetics, in South London.
© Paul Taylor 2002