April is National Poetry Month (NaPoMo)!! In celebration, I'll be joining 81 other poets across the globe in Found Poetry Review's OULIPOST project. The project requires each poet to create one poem a day by applying Oulipo techniques—basically constraints and rules—to the day's newspaper. (You'll find more about oulipo later on in this post.)
Each day in April, I'll be writing and posting one poem created from text in a local newspaper based on the constraints and rules for that day. Those constraints and rules will be given to me by the Found Poetry Review editors.
Of course, you can check back here for poems that I write. However, if you'd like access to all of the fabulous Oulipost poets:
- On April 1st, peruse the Oulipost Project page at Found Poetry Review (http://www.foundpoetryreview.com/oulipost/). Poets will be posting links to their poems as they complete them.
- On twitter, we'll be tweeting with the hashtag #oulipost.
- Some of us will be reposting on Tumblr using the tag oulipost.
So where does the word Oulipo come from?
It’s the shorten version of Ouvroir de littérature potentielle, roughly translated, according to Wikipedia, into "workshop of potential literature." It’s the name of a literary movement started in the 1960s by French poet Raymond Queneau and mathematician Francois Le Lionnais. Poet Mónica de la Torre, in her essay “Into the Maze: OULIPO,” gives two reasons why the Frenchmen banded together:
The concerns of the original members of the Oulipo were, at least, two-fold: on the one hand they wanted to write literature that could not be easily consumed and disposed of, literature that was always in the making.
Oulipians also wanted to devise a system to guarantee that writers would not run out of innovative formal possibilities. As Queneau wrote in the 1963 essay "Potential Literature," their objective was, "To propose new ‘structures’ to writers, mathematical in nature, or to invent new artificial or mechanical procedures that will contribute to literary activity: props for inspiration as it were, or rather, in a way, aids for creativity."
What are oulipo techniques you ask??
Why, they are poetic techniques that make use of constraints as a way to trigger ideas and get inspiration.
Some of the constraints are mathematically based, like the N+7 formula ('noun' + 7), in which you replace a noun in a poem with the seventh noun that follows it in whatever dictionary you happen to be using.
Other constraints are not mathematically based, such as the rule to make a poem out the headlines of today's newspaper. (For more info, the Oulipo page at Drunken Boat contains a number of essays and other resources.