images of OuLiPo in New York
JACQUES ROUBAUD gave an Oulipian masterclass at Princeton University on April 7. I arrived some twenty minutes early, and he was already there, writing Shakespeare’s Sonnet 52 on the board. When he saw me he dropped the chalk, shook my hand, and said, “I am Jacques Roubaud.” I said I knew; I had read The Great Fire of London. He seemed surprised. He said his arm hurt from writing on the board, now in his old age. He excused himself: his English was getting worse and worse. I said, on the contrary, his English was impeccable. “In fact,” I added, “you sound exactly like Vladimir Nabokov. Have you ever heard him speak? You have the same accent and the same voice.” He shook his fist and, laughing, cried, “Quel compliment!”
Click to watch the original version, in French
MARCEL BENABOU made Ian Monk read Why I Have Not Written Any of My Books. The latter grumbled, but consented, and the former, after the reading, thanked the latter profusely: “Ian, tu es sublime. Je l’aurais massacré.”
HERVE LE TELLIER had no idea who I was, when I went up to him before the reading at the New School and shook his hand. I said, “Don’t you remember? You came to my party in the 14th arrondissement a few years ago. Also, I translated a text of yours.” (A text which he read that very evening.) He said, “Ah. Right. I didn’t recognize you in that suit.” We were then joined by Ian Monk, whom my friend Hervé introduced as Ayn Monk. Though sternly corrected, he continued to call him Ayn throughout the evening.
IAN MONK, or, as some like to call him, Ayn Monk, read a masterful univocalism on i (”Hi! I’m Iris. I’m slim, with big tits, trim thighs slid in this tight mini-skirt. It’s riding high. This girl’s IT, dimwit!…”), which put to shame our own efforts, published in issue # 1: a, e, i, o, u.
ANNE F. GARRETA and her friends were the first to show up to UpRightDown’s launch party at Madame X. I went up to them and offered to buy everyone drinks. They said, “Why? Who are you?” I said drinks were on the house, courtesy of UpRightDown. Our bar tab budget, $400, ran dry within an hour.
DANIEL LEVIN BECKER was Paul Fournel’s research assistant, or slave, when I first met him, two years ago in Paris. Two months ago he was inducted into the Oulipo.
And here are some of the people who made OuLiPo in New York happen:
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