Very cool book for people into Oulipo or interesting writing in general: The /n/oulipian Analects, published by Les Figues Press. It’s essentially an anthology of recent constrained writing (both from without the Oulipo and outside of it), plus interesting essays and short bits on the ideas behind such writing. (Read it alongside The End of Oulipo?)
Here’s a rather lengthy review of the book by Tom La Farge.
1. The noulipian Analects grew out of a conference, “noulipo,” organized by the editors at REDCAT in Los Angeles in 2005. Several leading practitioners of experimental writing in North America, mainly poets, met with members of the French group Oulipo to discuss the oulipian practice of writing with constraints – invented, arbitrary rules. Participants included, from Oulipo, Paul Fournel (its president) and Ian Monk; from UBUweb Christian Bök, Caroline Bergvall, and Brian Kim Stefans; Rob Wittig from IN.S.OMNIA; and an array of experimental writers interested in oulipian procedures: Johanna Drucker, Tan Lin, Bernadette Mayer, Harryette Mullen, Doug Nufer, Vanessa Place, Janet Sarbanes, Juliana Spahr, Rodrigo Toscano, Matias Viegener and Christine Wertheim (the organizers and editors), and Stephanie Young.
Besides a record of the conference papers, The noulipian Analects contains an anthology of constrained writing, since the panelists read from their work in evening sessions. This is a collection well worth having for showing the range of directions in which constraints and experimentalism in general can throw writing and the range of types of reading these can demand. Some of the pieces included are not new but are none the less delightful for that: Bernadette Mayer’s brilliant N + 7 poems “Before Sextet” and “After Sextet,” for example, or a selection from Christian Bök’s monovocalic Eunoia.
But primarily the panelists met to assess the oulipian tradition’s value on this side of the Atlantic and to consider, and debate, issues of poetics. The book as a whole takes a strong position in favor of a leftist, feminist poetics of experimentalism. That stand is most directly communicated by the papers read by Toscano, Spahr and Young and by Bök, and also by the editors’ comments. . . .