Fact-Simile 2.1 (Spring/Summer 2009) is Out!
The new issue of Fact-Simile is now available as a free pdf. Print copies are also available through subscription. The issue contains work by:
Andrew K. Peterson
Serena Rose Chopra
and includes an interview with Kristin Prevallet.
My poem “Elementary Morality”–many thanks to the staff at Fact-Simile for publishing it–is an experiment based on the form invented in the 70’s by Oulipo co-founder Raymond Queneau. It is (according to Queneau) “3 series of 3 + 1 pairs, each pair consisting of a noun and an adjective (or participle), freely including repetitions, rhymes, alliterations, and echoes; next, a kind of interlude of 7 lines, each line 1 to 5 syllables long; last, a conclusion of 3 + 1 pairs of words (noun and adjective or participle), more or less recapitulating several of the 24 words of the first part” (Oulipo Compendium 142).
In “The Birth of a Form: Elementary Morality,” Jacques Roubaud movingly impels us to “restore [words] to…their pristine splendor,” to perform “a paleontology of language,” to “clone the linguistic mammoths imprisoned in the permafrost of fixed tradition” and suggests that Queneau’s reinvention of the poetic list-form is an effective response to this crisis of language. The form hasn’t really caught on in English, though Philip Terry, Queneau’s English translator, has interestingly adapted it to create a species of landscape poetry (poems from his series “Elementary Estuaries,” which are based on estuary walks in Essex, can be found here.) To me, however, the form lends itself not so much to mimesis and description but rather to a kind of echoic alchemy, to a cataloguing of strange and mysterious recurrences.
Below is the last poem from Queneau’s series in Morale élémentaire (Gallimard, 1975):