Advanced theoretical and applied poetics.

The Fitzpatrick-O’Dinn Award for the Best Book Length Work of Formally Constrained English Literature

“an Oulipian writer is like a hurdler sprinter who runs faster when there are hurdles on the track”—Italo Calvino

Winner 2004
Judge: Christian Bök

Joshua Corey’s Fourier Series

Joshua Corey writes a poetic series based upon the psychosocial permutations imagined by the utopian thinker Charles Fourier. Corey arranges a resonant, emotional lexicon into a quadratic structure that emulates in language the kind of interpersonal relationships that, according to Fourier, might ideally define a social utopia of competitive cooperation. Just as Fourier imagines a set of artfully designed communes, in which members, chosen for their variegated talents, but compatible passions, might coexist in a state of harmonic integrity, so also has Corey selected a diverse ensemble of elegant, sensual phrases and arranged them into an array that highlights the beautiful potential inherent within the force-field of language itself.—Christian Bök

Finalists 2004:

If Language, by Gregory Betts

Gregory Betts borrows a paragraph about the general economy of language from the critic Steve McCaffery and then recombines this restricted repertoire of letters into a new set of exhaustively anagrammatic permutations. Betts reveals the degree to which one text might contain within itself the potential to foster other unexpected variations upon its own message.—Christian Bök

A Flash animation of portions of this epic anagram may be viewed at:

here/gone, by Karen Green

Karen Green paints an astonishing sequence of 52 square multimedia paintings corresponding to the letters of the alphabet. These phosphorescent compositions shed a dizzying, serenity-disrupting beauty.—William Gillespie

Blue Fire, by Wendy Walker

Wendy Walker composes a voluminous, magnificent artists' book incorporating found text, visual elements, and gatefold pages, in which prodigious research gives way, piece by piece, to a taut formal poem, in which is compressed the saga of Constance Kent. The poem comprises one word from each line of Joseph Stapleton’s book The Great Crime of 1860. This poem appears in sequence on the verso pages. On the recto page opposite, passages from various source texts appear, chosen to have the same number of lines as the corresponding passages from the poem do words. In this manner resarch is translated into a crisp, angular, paratactic poem, which, in turn, becomes a filter for the research. This process subverts history's feigned innocent objectivity by subordinating its documents to the poetic.—William Gillespie

Semifinalists 2004:

Iain Matheson

Bart McIlduff

Dave Morice

Sam Patterson

Original contest announcement and rules (flyer—PDF)
Constrained Literature
The Fitzpatrick-O'Dinn Foundation

Spineless Books.