Oulipost Exit Interview:
Oulipost Ends Where the Work Begins
What happened during Oulipost that you didn’t expect? What are the best (or worst) moments for you?
I wasn’t expecting to engage with a community of writers. I envisaged simply responding to the prompts on my own, living mostly in my head, not interacting with others.
The best moments were when the poems really clicked, when the challenge resonated & I was able to use my imagination, such as for the Confabulation exercise. I ended up creating a snippet of dialogue which could be part of a play. With this exercise & a few other recent experiences, I have had an epiphany about one direction my writing can take that it hasn’t gone before: theatre.
With the antonymy exercise I also had a eureka moment when playing wildly with the idea of opposites & loosely translating what opposite means. For the Prime Minister’s Office I invented the Last Clerk’s Cupboard. I can imagine writing a whole series of poems entitled “Notes from the Last Clerk’s Cupboard.”
I had another eureka moment when I realized I could apply the Oulipo techniques we worked with to another project I’m involved in that I was uncertain how to address. Oulipo can save your life.
I was also really glad that I acquired the Oulipo Companion. It was a big help in responding to the challenges & also taught me more about Oulipo, which I was admittedly completely ignorant of when I started out.
There weren’t any really bad moments in this whole experience. I was intimidated at first by some of the more challenging exercises, such as the blank verse amidst the prose, the sonnets, beautiful outlaw. But it ended up being fun. And the fact that other Ouliposters were also having trouble was comforting.
I had some small technological difficulties when I took my Oulipo ass on the road & tried to use an unfamiliar laptop on the train: small train table, large laptop, inquisitive seatmate. Also in my temporary abode, I had some issues with my cell phone, which I was using to connect to the Internet, but patience & good distractions with a loving companion assuaged any flights of temper or frustration. I ended up completing my assignments on time & under budget. Ok, there was no budget for this, but…
What does your street look like?
Fog-covered at the moment. It’s been raining for a few days. Besides, I haven’t been out to look at it much. I’ve been in front of my screen, Ouliposting. but this will be rectified in the month of May when I intend to wander my neighbourhood, gathering rosebuds & consorting with vagrants & hipsters.
Who is your spirit Oulipostian?
I chose a non Oulipian to start: Anne Carson because of her genre blurriness & her seemingly limitless imagination & unique way of looking at the world.
Now, given how much I enjoyed reading the poems of my fellow Ouliposters & felt like we were operating as one entity, perhaps my spirit Oulipostian is the Chimera: one big body with several heads, the heads of my fellow poets who took part in this project.
What are the top three poems you wrote during this project?
1. the dialogue of Martha & Peter (Confabulaiton) (April 21)
2. Notes from the Last Clerk's Cupboard (Antonymy) (April 22)
3. once upon a time (Patchwork Quilt) (April 29)
What questions do you have for your teaspoons? What questions do your teaspoons have for you?
as luck would have it, I’ve already had a conversation with a spoon & this is what ensued:
“the spoon doesn’t want to resemble every other spoon. in the back of its mind, it questions why silver, why a bowl shape, why a handle. is envious of forks with their spiketine ability to stab meat & the knife, well the knife is the god of cutlery. can cut, draw blood. the spoon feels dull & ineffective. is tired of soup & yellow. lives only for the lift, the glorious tilt to the lips.”
the small of july, 2010
What will you do next?
reheat the coffee.
check the Oulipost FB group obsessively to see what everyone’s up to…
write more poetry.
publish chapbooks of others thru AngelHousePress, my micropress & its imprint, DevilHouse in perparation for the ottawa small press book fair in june.
try to go on…somehow…hand melodramatically over forehead, small white handkerchief at the ready to catch the torrents of tears I shall shed…
but seriously, I shall miss reading everyone’s poems daily & trying to conjure up my own. thanks to all involved.