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Eunoia
by Christian Bok


Overview -

The word 'eunoia, ' which literally means 'beautiful thinking, ' is the shortest word in English that contains all five vowels. Directly inspired by the Oulipo (l'Ouvroir de Litterature Potentielle), a French writers' group interested in experimenting with different forms of literary constraint, Eunoia is a five-chapter book in which each chapter is a univocal lipogram - the first chapter has A as its only vowel, the second chapter E, etc.  Read more...


 
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More About Eunoia by Christian Bok
 
 
 
Overview

The word 'eunoia, ' which literally means 'beautiful thinking, ' is the shortest word in English that contains all five vowels. Directly inspired by the Oulipo (l'Ouvroir de Litterature Potentielle), a French writers' group interested in experimenting with different forms of literary constraint, Eunoia is a five-chapter book in which each chapter is a univocal lipogram - the first chapter has A as its only vowel, the second chapter E, etc. Each vowel takes on a distinct personality: the I is egotistical and romantic, the O jocular and obscene, the E elegiac and epic (including a retelling of the Iliad ).

Stunning in its implications and masterful in its execution, Eunoia has developed a cult following, garnering extensive praise and winning the Griffin Poetry Prize. The original edition was never released in the U.S., but it has already been a bestseller in Canada and the U.K. (published by Canongate Books), where it was listed as one of the Times' top ten books of 2008.

This edition features several new but related poems by Christian Bok and an expanded afterword.


 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9781552452257
  • ISBN-10: 1552452255
  • Publisher: Coach House Press
  • Publish Date: August 2009
  • Page Count: 115
  • Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.1 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.37 pounds


Related Categories

Books > Poetry > American - General

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 38.
  • Review Date: 2009-10-19
  • Reviewer: Staff

Canadian experimental poet Bök's Eunoia, first published in 2001, is already legendary. In it, Bök devotes a chapter to each vowel, using only that vowel as well as a handful of other rules and restrictions, to create series of poems that push the English language to limits and possibilities no one knew it had. This new edition reprints the entire original book and adds a section of new poems that comment on the original project or take up other alphabetical themes (“And Sometimes,” for instance, uses only English words with the letter Y and no other vowels). What at first seems like a game turns out to be a means of unlocking a kind of hidden nature of the English language: the vowels, it turns out, each have their own moods and environments revealed by their repeated use. “A law as harsh as a fatwa bans/ all paragraphs that lack an A as a standard hallmark,” reads the first poem. The vowels inspire, if in fact they don't contain, stories of their own. The E chapter narrates a war-story about Greeks worthy of Homer: “When the rebels beset defended trenches,/ the defenders retrench themselves, then strengthen/ the embedded defenses.” This book is jaw-droppingly powerful, a mythology of sound. (Oct.)

 
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