Ian Monk



Photo of Ian Monk

Ian Monk was born in 1960 near London. After taking a classics degree, he moved to France where he translates (Georges Perec, Daniel Pennac, Marie Darrieussecq, Raymond Roussel, among others), and writes in English and French. After contributing to the Oulipo Compendium (Atlas Press) he became a member of the Oulipo in 1988. His books include Family Archaeology and Writings for the Oulipo (Make Now) and N/S (with Frédéric Forte (Editions de l’Attente). He won the Scott Moncrieff Prize in 2004 for his translation of Monsieur Malaussène by Daniel Pennac.

Notes: The Quenoum is a new poetic form that brings together the traditional Pantoum and the Oulipian ‘Quenine’. In brief, half of the lines in each stanza are repeated in different positions in the following one (the unrepeated lines from the first stanza reappear in the last one), meanwhile the end words of the other lines are also repeated, according to a strict permutation.

The ‘Elementary Morality’ is a poetic form invented by Raymond Queneau in his last published collection of poetry. It consists of three series of four pairs of adjectives and nouns, a section of seven lines of ‘free’ verse from one to five syllables, and then a final series of fours pairs of adjectives and nouns. Here, I have used it to create a sort of trompe l’œil between English and French. All of the pairs of words can either be read as adjectives and nouns in English or as nouns and adjectives in French. The central section is similarly ambiguous.

‘N/S’ is an extract from a collection of poetry written with Frédéric Forte and published in France by Les Editions de l’Attente. We decided to write poems of eight lines, four in English and four in French, which would cover all the possible combinations of EEEEFFFF, EEEFEFFF etc (there are seventy). Each of us wrote the four lines of each poem in our own language then we emailed it to the other, who completed it in his language. I then translated the entire collection thus forming a mirror image of it.