Aphorisms, Preverbs, & Hotel Amerika 9.2 (Spring 2011)

I’ve been enjoying the new issue of Hotel Amerika (it came in the mail over the weekend)– it’s a special issue on aphorisms.  There are some excerpts in it from my upcoming book, Cutting Time with a Knife, as well as writing by James Richardson, Sharon Dolin, E. Shaskan Bumas, James Lough, George Murray, Jeff Hardin, James Geary, Yahia Lababidi, H.L. Hix, Ann Lauinger, Irving Feldman, Richard Kostelanetz, David Baker, and Anne Reynolds. 

And what makes this issue so fun is that these pieces are interspersed with aphorisms by John Bradley, Steven Carter, Dan Chelotti, Jill Christman, Christopher Cokinos, Joshua Edwards, Kevin Griffith, Judy Halebsky, Richard Krause, Sara Levine, Daniel Liebert, Patrick Madden, Dan Moreau, Mark Neely, Eric Nelson, Daniel Nester, Louis Phillips, Richard Rauch, Helen Rugieri, B.A. Russo, Dennis Saleh, Kris Saknussemm, Lorraine Schein, Alex Stein, Michael Paul Thomas, Lee Upton, William G. Ward, Manfred Weidhorn, Matthew Westbrook, Janet Wondra, and Holly Woodward.

I couldn’t help myself and decided to subject some of the aphorisms from this issue to some Oulipian fun by creating “preverbs.”  According to the Oulipo Compendium, “The word preverb was invented by Maxine Groffsky to describe the result obtained by crossing proverbs…It is only derived from proverbs that can be divided into substantial halves which can then be recombined.”

Here are a couple:

Don’t water down tame comparisons. (Daniel Nester)


That materialist, the devil, doesn’t want your insubstantial soul. (Holly Woodward)


Don’t water down your insubstantial soul.

Sign in the library: “Silence spoken here.” (John Bradley)


Transparency in love or poetry is like a windshield: the site of tiny massacres. (Lee Upton)


Sign in the library: the site of tiny massacres.

On the brightest days / The dirtiest of windows. (Rick Rauch)


The thicker the moustache, the more awkward the pickup line. (George Murray)


The thicker the moustache, the dirtiest of windows.

Formal poetry? As opposed to what other kind? (H.L. Hix)


Saint Patrick: first case of Stockholm Syndrome? (Patrick Madden)


Formal poetry: first case of Stockholm Syndrome?

My dead cats still pounce on me. (Holly Woodward)


Finished thoughts belong to the dead. (George Murray)


My dead cats belong to the dead.

~ by Michael Leong on March 7, 2011.

5 Responses to “Aphorisms, Preverbs, & Hotel Amerika 9.2 (Spring 2011)”

  1. Thanks so much. I love your blog.

  2. Thanks, Holly. I enjoyed reading your aphorisms.

  3. […] Hotel Amerika’s aphorisms au go go. March 9, 2011 by Daniel Nester Michael Leong gives Hotel Amerika‘s latest issue a shout-out. Its focus is on aphorisms. He’s in the issue in a big way, along with James […]

  4. I would never submit my work to a literary magazine that would never think of publishing it, it’s too “au contraire”, I declaire.

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