Saturday, December 01, 2012

Seven for Andrew

            Seven Elevens for Andrew Hoyem
a beau présent on his seventyseventh birthday


      drown ye no awe.  Rhymed dream,
                   yen: how
Read me?  Why on end, Worm?  Yeah! Wordy
He, mean…
         Hee! Own day, Mr.!

O hymned!  Wear, ye hard women, endow
My hare, my dear; he won.


A mewed, horny nomad?
                  Why, ere day
When more random hew ye ear,
Deny whom warmèd honey hand, eye,
Worm, or whey.

Ye hard women;
Endow my hare, my owned hare.


And woe, rhyme! Need army,
Who drew home, nay, rend home,
Yaw enamored. Why, where Monday

Had women, rye — Oh my raw need!—
Yawned Homer, era demon.
             Why me? Wan, dry? Home?


Amen. Redo.
Why no awed rhyme?
Dreamy, he won remedy. Ha! Now
End, hay mower. We harmed yon

Harmony weed. One dream:
                  Ye damn whore,
Eh? A wry demon-mad rye, now he…


A dower hymen neared. Who? My day,
When more ran dewy — oh my end.
                  Oh me! Awry, whom deanery

Hard money we own;
Adhere, my yew and Homer.
Endear, who my mad rye hew. O.


And O where my new road, he, my dawn;
O her, ye ready men, who enemy
Draw — Oh warmèd, homey,

Homeward yen; ore —
Why, maned yardmen? Oh we earned,
Who my many he rowed.


      And he wore my
      Name, who, dyer,
      Dreamy now, he
      Read — woe, hymn —
      Earned how my
      Wand (ye Homer)

      Harden my woe
      Or he may wend
      Yawn, Homered, (
      Enemy word) — ah,
      My heron, wade…

THE BOOK I MENTIONED a few weeks ago, but have neglected until now to name, even, let alone discuss, is Levin Becker's Many Subtle Channels, a fascinating, engaging, rather prickly survey — personal, because based on personal engagement with the subject — of OuLiPo (as I prefer to spell it, with the internal caps clarifying the etymology): Ouvoir de Littérature Potentielle, the Paris-based Workshop for Potential Literature, writing, to put it over-simply, with self-imposed constraints, whether for inspiration or simply for amusement.

(Not that the experience of being inspired isn't amusing.)

Well, it's more than that:
“Potential literature,” Levin Becker explains, “is both the things that literature could be and the things that could be literature.”
And on the subject of inspiration, as I posted here on my birthday last,
Queneau's most quoted remark is probably his declaration, in the 1937 novel Odile, that the true artist is never inspired—he is always inspired. As a counterpoint, recall his dictum from an early Oulipo meeting that there is no literature but voluntary literature, and this begins to come into focus: meaning, such as it is, doesn't exist on its own. Someone has to find it, midwife it, present it to the world as more than just a coincidence. The real artist is always inspired not because he creates things that are unmistakably intentional, but because he is sensitive to the sorts of things that at first seem like accidents. He replicates them on his own terms, as an expression of his own preoccupations or sensibilities or desires, or he just sticks them on a gallery wall and calls them art; even when he's wrong, he's right.
—Daniel Levin Becker, Many Subtle Channels: In praise of potential literature, pp.297-8

I won't review the book here; Eastside Viewers will know by now my excuses, among which laziness counts most. There are plenty of reviews online: here's one that seems particularly useful. (The quote in the previous paragraph is taken from it.) I find, retrieving the book from its overlooked pile in the attic, that it is pristine: no annotations, no date of purchase, no owner's name on flyleaf — all very unusual. I know I bought it in Portland last summer, and was obviously reading it in August; I know I took a good many notes — where the hell are they?

Internalized, perhaps.

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