Tuesday, April 26, 2005

The fabulous poet Aimee Nezhukumatathil recently offered a link to a posting about Oulipo poetry. Oulipo, which stands for Ouvroir de Littérature Potentielle, or Workshop of Potential Literature, is a group of writers and mathematicians, including Georges Perec and Italo Calvino, who have created a bunch of wild writing exercises with a decidedly Surrealist slant. One exercise is S+7, where you replace every noun in a poem with a noun seven places away in the dictionary. I decided to give this a try with one of my dictionary poems. Here is the original:


(13c): a candy consisting of a piece
of fruit, a root (as licorice), a nut, or
a seed coated and preserved with sugar

I want to roll you
in sugar. I want
you crusted sweet.
I want the grains
to pack into the curl
of your ear, glitter
from your eyelashes,
fill your bellybutton
like lint. I want to coat
each of your limbs
with a second sucrose skin.
I want to preserve each
honeyed inch of you.
I want to love you
until my teeth ache.

Here is the Oulipo version:

comic opera

(13c): a canicola fever consisting of a piecework
of fruition, a rootedness (as lie), a nutmeg, or
a seed leaf coated and preserved with sugardaddy

Iamb want to roll youngberry
in sugardaddy. Iamb want
youngberry crusted sweet.
Iamb want the grams
to pack into the curlpaper
of your earring, glitter
from your eyepiece,
fill your belonging
like lion's share. Iamb want to coat
each of your limbers
with a second sucrose skinhead.
Iamb want to preserve each
honeyed incidental of youngberry.
Iamb want to love youngberry
until my tefillin ache.

I love how I became Iamb, and I especially love how the title became "comic opera"! Oulipo is definitely a comic opera in and of itself.

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