Since 1961, the OuLiPo — ouvroir de littérature potentielle, or workshop for potential literature — has been borrowing mathematical and scientific theories to develop new structures for literary creation. In its explorations, the workshop has rejuvenated age-old forms, such as the sonnet, the sestina, and the lipogram, and created new delights like the subway poem, the N+7 technique, and the first choose-your-own-adventure fiction in history.
In its first half-century, the Oulipo has been home to such luminaries as Raymond Queneau, François Le Lionnais, Marcel Duchamp, Italo Calvino, Georges Perec, Jacques Roubaud, and Harry Mathews; as it evolves, the oulipian project continues to carve out new paths for creative exploration of constraint, extending beyond the literary to engage music, visual arts, architecture, and much more.
This multi-day celebration, presented by City Lights Booksellers & Publishers in conjunction with the Mechanics’ Institute Library and the San Francisco Art Institute, brings together members of the Oulipo and West Coast creators to trace potential literature from its origins to the present day and into the future, with discussions, readings, and participatory workshops.
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