An Alphamath Serial
About this Item
Book Thug Tradebooks
ivH: An Alphamath Serial is a book-length poem composed in the tradition of such precursors as Pythagoras, who taught that number was the essence of all things; Plato, who argued that geometry was the foundation of all knowledge; Leonardo, whose work clearly follows the Renaissance aesthetics of mathematics and the mathematics of aesthetics; Descartes, Pascal, and d'Alembert, who were all both writers and mathematicians; Schopenhauer and Lewis Carroll, and then moderns such as Val?ry and Ezra Pound, who, in his Spirit of Romance, declared that "poetry is a sort of inspired mathematics." And now, in 2012, as the present moment in this literary trajectory, ivH: An Alphamath Serial has arrived in the form of a faux transtranslation of Raymond Queneau's 1939 novel Un Rude Hiver!
As Warren Motte points out in his introduction to Oulipo: A Primer of Potential Literature: "Oulipian systems of formal constraint are often based on the alphabet. But in many cases, as the reader has undoubtedly begun to suspect, the nature of these constraints is mathematical. At the center is the idea of the essential analogy of mathematics and literature." Thus, apart from the initial constraint of an Internet translation, which provided him with a vocabulary, Coleman further constrains ivH by constructing each poem as eight stanzas of eight lines each (H is the eighth letter of the alphabet) with each line limited to four syllables.