Riddle & Bind, by Nick Montfort, is a book of poems to solve in three sections.
"Riddle" consists of poems written as riddles the reader is invited to solve by guessing their subject.
"Bind" is a selection of constrained poetry written using traditional, ludic, and Oulipian poetic forms.
The second section, "&," combines both approaches in poems inviting the reader to guess both form and content.
31 October 2010. Perfect Bound. 5.5 x 8.5 inches.
Advance Praise for Riddle & Bind
Ancient poetic tradition teaches both the prism-house (riddle) and prison-house (bind) of language. Old English riddles artfully mislead us, only to return sparkling awareness of what had been lost as commonplace once they are solved, the language-practice of riddle defeating the graying-out effects of ordinary speech.
All of world-poetry uses the constraints of sound-following, measure, and form. A drive to preserve traditional constraints co-exists with a constant pressure to discover or elaborate new ones. Most recently, visual, lettristric, mathematical, and algorithmic constraints have been explored by Oulipians, digital writers, and others.
Nick Montfort’s Riddle & Bind comes informed by all these practices, especially enriched by his experience as a prizewinning writer of digital interactive fiction and as a coder of concise, elegant poetry generators.
Dive in to the riddles and bound poems of Riddle & Bind as gifts of 21st -century language—and turn to the “key” at the end of the book if your enjoyment includes the “answers” or curiosity about constraints. Deep pleasure awaits you.
— Stephanie Strickland
I like the way Nick Montfort’s poems maintain both brilliance and being: never losing either while displaying the other. The poems build their force by acceleration as they shimmer between imagination and reality, between attention to language and the language of attention. For example, to note that many passersby are gripping “head wounds”—the first two words of “Another Hole”— is striking; that what these passersby are clutching is their mobile phones is mordantly funny. And beyond that, the poem (“Another Hole”) deploys Montfort’s distinctive gifts of ear, eye and brain to consider genuine, figurative wounds: “Heal them, please/ please press their/ heads together,/ O.” This is a boldly original, serious and playful book of genuine poetry.