Frédéric Forte: Clip from the interview

As promised, here is the second clip from the interviews I made last winter in Paris.

I met Frédéric Forte as he had been working on the English edition of his collection of poems Opéras-Minute, published under the title Minute-Operas this January in the States. It’s after the publication of this book in France in 2005, that Frédéric was elected a member of the Oulipo.

In this extract, Frédéric discusses his methods of writing and his particular approach to the materiality of the text. He has a lot to say on that subject and you’ll see how challenging and exciting his use of Word can be! His experiments with simple Word functions like “forms” and “lines” create very graphic poems. The materiality of the text might seem an obscure concept to many and what I find extremely interesting is that his poems make it visible.

He also talks about the specific problems he, and his team of translators, encountered when translating his poems into English. This time it was not so much the exact words or their order on the page that they had to be careful about, but the length and the volume of each poem that they had to replicate.

If you want to know more about the English translation, for the release of Minute-Operas Jacket2 published a very original review, written in the style of Frédéric’s poems, that you can read here:

Jacket2 is an online multimedia magazine focussing on modern and contemporary poetry and based in Philadelphia. I was very happy when their team contacted me and asked for illustrating their article with my portrait of Frédéric I published in the blog last April. Blogs really create unexpected exchanges and encounters!

Many thanks to Tim Mathews for his help with the English version of Frédéric’s interview.

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Camille Bloomfield and Claire Lesage, curators of the « littérature en jeu(x) » (literature in play) exhibition at the Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal.

Gallery of portraits of Oulipo writers.

During my last trip to Paris, I had the chance to interview the two curators of the Oulipo exhibition at the Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal, Camille Bloomfield and Claire Lesage. It was a real privilege to have access to the rooms, and to be authorized to film at the Arsenal before the doors opened to the public. The exhibition has aroused a lot of press interest and has also been a great success with the public.

Exhibition "La littérature en jeu(x). Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal, Paris.The Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal has an exceptional collection on the Oulipo, since a large part of the group’s archives are held there.

As part of my series of interviews on the Oulipo, I wanted to ask the two curators about how they dealt with the materiality of the Oulipian texts in the exhibition. They explained the work they had carried out with exhibition space designers, and we spoke a lot about the Oulipian games they had installed. Visitors to the exhibition were able to play a number of games with words or phrases printed on wooden stands or plastic-coated fabrics. These games were aesthetically very pleasing.

Camille Bloomfield and Claire Lesage are also in charge of the catalogue (now completely sold out!) and they have tried as far as possible to make it an Oulipian object in itself: they have included play with cut-outs on the cover, and also original texts especially written by several Oulipio writers for the catalogue (identifiable through a yellow colour code).

I will soon post extracts from this interview online: watch this space!

Catalogue Exhibition "Littérature en jeu(x)", Bibliothèque de L'Arsenal, ParisCatalogue Exhibition "Littérature en jeu(x)", Bibliothèque de L'Arsenal, Paris

The success of this exhibition is well-deserved, Camille Bloomfield, Claire Lesage and their team have taken up the challenge of displaying manuscripts, books and objects not designed for museum use, and they have made the experience playful and fun.

The exhibition littérature en jeu(x) was held at the Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal in Paris from 18 November 2014 to 15 February 2015. For more information, the press kit is available at:

You can also have a look at: BNF

Key words: Oulipo, Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal, Camille Bloomfield, Claire Lesage, « littérature en jeu(x) », materiality of writing, play, interview

With many thanks to Theano Petrou for the English translation of this post.

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