Joel Bettridge

Toward Oulipo

Photo of Joel Bettridge

Joel Bettridge received his Ph.D. from SUNY Buffalo in 2002 and now teaches at the University of Redlands. He is currently editing a collection of essays on Ronald Johnson for the National Poetry Foundation's Life and Work series, and he has poems and essays in recent or forthcoming issues of the Colorado Review, Jacket, Pom2, Damn the Caesars, BlazeVOX, QUE, Sagetrieb, and Mandorla.

Notes: The constraint was to write a poem of 26 words with each word beginning with a different letter of the alphabet. I choose this constraint because I wanted to see if I could write such a poem without forcing the words to jump through any hoops in order to make the poem fit the constraint. Of course half the fun and usefulness of doing experiments comes in the surprises constraints force onto words, but in this case I was interested in turning the constraint against itself — I wanted to try and make it invisible. Perhaps it was an experiment in not highlighting the experiment.