A Hundred Thousand Billion Poems

I got that excited Christmas-morning shudder when I learned that Raymond Queneau’s “A Hundred Thousand Billion Poems” is online.  Woo-hoo!

I was thinking of that in the first place after dwelling on all the Marys, Jameses, and Johns that Jesus knew.  I wonder if you could just swap them around and, if so, what would happen?

Or if you could write a play where all of the characters shared the same name, so that each director would have to go through and assign lines to actors–as many or few as she liked?  How many different plays could you come up with?

I wish I were disciplined enough to belong to Oulipo.  I love the idea of a workshop of potential literature.

2 thoughts on “A Hundred Thousand Billion Poems

  1. “You can’t quote Virgil in a limousine…”

    (I remember that my first poetry teacher loved this work and wound up doing a lot with auto-generated sonnets…)

  2. Hooray for Oulipo! Have you ever read Christian Bok’s Eunoia? Each chapter is written using only one vowel. The “U” chapter is my favorite. So many smutty yucky words use U. I’ll be teaching Oulipo stuff in my poetry class here in a couple of weeks. I like the N + 7 game where you take a given text and replace each noun with the noun seven spots below it in the dictionary.

    Hey, and glad you’re breathing better. I’m a user of ridiculously-expensive inhalers myself.

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