From this building in Paris:
Which just happens to host the Police Office of the 12th Arrondissement!
As seen from the Coulée Verte.
Most of this journal consists of stories I have spun out of thin air.
In general I only share them with friends.
1. WHAT EXCITES YOU ABOUT OULIPOST?
A daily challenge. Playing with newspapers. With actual papers! (My edicola guy is going to LOVE me. For a month. (Instant romance.)
Plus the exercises. Obviously. (and now that I have read the prompts, my heart is SO excited that it tries to divorce me)
2. WHAT, IF ANYTHING, SCARES YOU ABOUT OULIPOST?
Managing a combination English prompts and Italian newspapers. They might refuse to talk to each other, or fight and attempt to steal the covers from each other’s back (in which case, I will probably end-up as being the one with feet left hanging out in the cold). Or gang-up on me. Who knows?
Really guys. Those prompts are MURDER.
3. HAVE YOU WRITTEN EXPERIMENTAL OR FOUND POETRY BEFORE? IF SO, TELL US ABOUT IT.
I often write found poetry (once you’ve started – Thanks, Jess - you just can’t not see it lurking everywhere; it’s like a virus that flares up every time you lay eyes upon written material). I loved doing the Pulitzer Remix last year, for instance. I had to force myself to quit after a month (or so) otherwise I’d still be at it.
4. WHAT NEWSPAPER WILL SERVE AS YOUR SOURCE TEXT?
The only local newspaper I know of in Rome is Il Messaggero. It is however also a national newspaper, so I am not sure it has all that might be required for the prompts (like wedding announcements for the Epithalamium - I might have to be creative there). We will soon see about that.
Or use another newspaper altogether for the Lipogram OR write a poem with words with only U as a vowel. (Talk about minimal poetry!)
[Insert instant drama button here]
5. WHO’S YOUR SPIRIT OULIPIAN?
Hey, I am French! Which one isn’t might be a better question. This said, I – obviously - love Raymond Queneau, especially for his “Exercices de Style”, which I had several editions of as a child. And Perec (because of kitties and wild - Sxip Shirey-like - hair) (but no, I am still NOT getting a perm).
Because I live in Italy, I would feel bound to mention Italo Calvino but can’t really claim any influence there. I fell asleep too many time on his Cosmicomics. Marvelous chap and all for sure but... No.
Sixty nine years ago on this day, the Polish forces under Lieutenant General Władysław Anders captured Monte Cassino, Italy, after four bloody assaults led by the allied forces, massive bombing of the grand hill top abbey founded in 529 by Santo Benedetto di Norcia, and general slaughter of both military (about 55,000 for the allied forces, 20,000 for the German troupes who had held the hills) and civilians (number undocumented).
The slaughter and victory was then followed by 50 hours of atrocities committed by the French troupes on the civilians. As a result of the soldiers being generously (!) offered the spoils of the land by their commander, over 6,000 women (and even old men and priests who had tried to protect them, in which case the number of victims goes up to 7,000) ranging in age from eleven to 86, were raped. In addition, civilian men who tried to protect their wives and daughters were murdered without mercy. The number of men killed in that occasion has been estimated at roughly 800.
So, with my ears red in retrospective shame, I am not celebrating the day, but sharing this bit of information, so you can join in mourning the general nefariousness of the world.
This image is from the Polish Cemetery at Monte Cassino, which I've visited last weekend.
The abbey has been reconstructed and will be the object of the next post.