Le Ouvroir de Littérature Potentielle

“Oulipo,” or properly translated into English as “the Workshop of Potential Literature,” was a modernist poetry movement which originated among Francophone writers and mathematicians in the 01960's. The workshop focused almost entirely on either generative poetry, “restrictive techniques,” or poems based around mathematical problems. It was revolutionary for the era, as it attempted procedural rhetoric before the common availability of computerized assistance.

By the time I was in undergrad, the English-speaking literary world was going through a general awareness of oulipoian techniques, with various Canadian poets publishing their interpretations of the oulipo corpus throughout the early-to-late Aughts, to critical acclaim. Iterating upon the techniques of the old guard, these newer works were able to extend oulipoian style into new forays. Accordingly, oulipo was the subject of many-a-university-seminar, and thus I gained a small collection of oulipoian and likesame works on my own.

... at the time, however, I had deeply conflicting feelings on the popularity of oulipo. Still do. Gimmicks can certainly be entertaining, but at the end of the day, gimmicks are all they are.



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