October 21, 2004
Jean-Michel Espitallier, poet and editor of Java, read at the Kelly Writers House yesterday, offering some poems that join mathematical principles with language and its sounds in ways that aren’t exactly Oulipian, but are certainly reminiscent of the algorithmic approaches of that group. And Espitallier’s work has something else in common with that of the Oulipo: it was playful and fun, even if it takes on rather serious topics. Espitallier and his translator, Sherry Brennan, read from the new chapbook Fantasy bouchère (Butcher Fantasy) and read several other pieces, showing a video work in progress that is based on his “De la guerre civile” (“On Civil War”). The Writers House has three of his poems (with translations) online. Of these, “De la guerre civile” (“On Civil War”), from Le Theorem d’Espitallier, is certainly the most principled in its construction.