Another Oblique Strategy – 99 Poems

The staple, the ingredient, the grain of literature – the word – is mostly used in non-literature. Ninety nine postcards are written; perhaps half a poem takes place.
– Rajeev Taranath, ‘The State of the Art’ lecture, CEPT University, 1991 (see this post).

In Queneau’s 1947 Exercises in Style (English trans. Barbara Wright 1958), two banal incidents occur and 99 poems take place. One of the founder Oulipiens, Queneau offers another strategy for creativity under constraint. He relates the two incidents – an encounter on a bus, followed by an exchange regarding an overcoat button – in 99 different styles, predominantly liguistic, but also thematic, from Alexandrines to Olfactory via Logical Analysis and Ignorance.