A6 64 Pages
Extinctions - Philip Terry
Extinctions revisits the form explored in Birds of the British Isles – the chicago – created by Paul Fournel of Oulipo, and which bears a family resemblance to the riddle. It consists of a single stanza of five lines: the final line is a homophonic translation of a place name (or of the name of a person, a bird, etc.); the first four lines are oblique variants of the final line, the “solution” to the riddle, which is held in abeyance for the reader to guess. The final line of one of Fournel’s inuagural texts was a deformation of “Chicago” – “Chie cagot” (literally “shit sanctimonious hypocrite”) – which led Oulipo to name the form a chicago.
“As well as referencing Old English riddles this text is also in the tradition of the medieval bestiary. It’s not deep and meaningful, but it’s fun to read and radiates a zest for language. It’s also something that most readers would come back to again and again, as it’s a text that you can dip into and enjoy…”
Alan Baker, on Birds of the British Isles