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Ottawa author to participate in international writing project for the month of April

By Alejandro Bustos on March 27, 2014

Local author Amanda Earl is joining poets from around the world in an experimental writing initiative.

For the last three years, the U.S. online magazine Found Poetry Review has organized a project to commemorate National Poetry Month in April.

This year, the magazine has launched the Oulipo project, in which nearly 80 writers from seven countries will use text from local newspapers.

“The selected poets have received a list of 30 prompts which involve Oulipo constraints for each day in April,” says Earl in an interview with Apartment613.  “They must write a poem for each prompt, post it on their sites or blogs and link to the posts on the site of the Found Poetry Review.”

Founded in 1960 by French writer Raymond Queneau and French mathematician François Le Lionnais, Oulipo stands for Ouvroir de littérature potentielle, or Workshop for Potential Literature in English.  The aim of the group is to experiment with constrained writing techniques.

“[Oulipo] was founded … to find out how abstract restrictions could be combined with imaginative writing,” says Earl, who will be using text from The Ottawa Citizen.  “It included writers such as Marcel Duchamp and still exists today with writers such as Italo Calvino taking part.”

In a previous post, Apartment613 looked at some constrained writing methods.  For instance, each line in a poem could consist of a single word, with each successive line being one letter longer.

For the Oulipo project, all participating writers must use the Oulipo writing techniques that have been supplied by Found Poetry Review.  Earl will be keeping track of her work at her tumblr site, while interested readers can view updates from all participating poets here.

In addition to the Oulipo project, Earl has several things on her literary plate.

Photo of Amanda Earl by Charles Earl

Photo of Amanda Earl by Charles Earl

“I have two readings coming up.  I am to be inducted, along with spoken word artist, Danielle Grégoire into the VERSeOttawa Hall of Honour ” says Earl about the ceremony this Sunday, March 30, at Knox Presbyterian Church (120 Lisgar).  The event is free and begins at 7 pm.

Earl also has another reading scheduled next month, this time as part of the A B Series with Dean Steadman on Thursday, April 3 at the Ottawa Public Library.  This event is free and celebrates National Poetry Month.

As for writing, Earl has so many things on the go it would take another article to list them all.  However, below is a taste of some of her current work.

“I’m working on a trilogy entitled Trouble, Heaven and Paradise, which is part long poem, part play, part I’m not sure,” says Earl, who is planning on releasing her first poetry book this fall with Chaudiere Books. “I’m writing music for Heaven, using my electric guitar. I’m not too skilled at playing guitar, but I’ve always written songs and I need to use  the guitar to do so.”

Earl is also working a series of poems that blend text from classical and contemporary fiction, as well as collaborating with other artists / poets.

“Writing poetry to me is an opportunity to explore,” says Earl, who also works on the online site Bywords.  “I love to play and also I find such challenges help me to move out of my own narrow sphere of knowledge and abilities and into the realm of the unknown.”