The Operating System

5th Annual NAPOMO 30/30/30 :: Day 3 :: Johnny Damm on The Glory of Raymond Roussel

It’s hard to believe this year is our FIFTH annual 30/30/30 series, and that when this month is over we will have seeded and scattered ONE HUNDRED and FIFTY of these love-letters, these stories of gratitude and memory, into the world. Nearly 30 books, 3 magazines, countless events and online entries later, and this annual celebration shines like a beacon at the top of the heap of my very favorite things to have brought into being. [If you’re interested in going back through the earlier 120 entries, you can find them (in reverse chronological order) here.]

When I began this exercise on my own blog, in 2011, I began by speaking to National Poetry Month’s beginnings, in 1966, and wrote that my intentions “for my part, as a humble servant and practitioner of this lovely, loving art,” were to post a poem and/or brief history of a different poet…. as well as write and post a new poem a day. I do function well under stricture, but I soon realized this was an overwhelming errand.

Nonetheless the idea stuck — to have this month serve not only as one in which we flex our practical muscles but also one in which we reflect on inspiration, community, and tradition — and with The Operating System (then Exit Strata) available as a public platform to me, I invited others (and invited others to invite others) to join in the exercise. It is a series which perfectly models my intention to have the OS serve as an engine of open source education, of peer to peer value and knowledge circulation.

Sitting down at my computer so many years ago I would have never imagined that in the following five years I would be able to curate and gather 150 essays from so many gifted poets — ranging from students to award winning stars of the craft, from the US and abroad — to join in this effort. But I’m so so glad that this has come to be.

I’m so thrilled that for Day 3 Johnny Damm (whose book, Science of Things Familiar, is forthcoming from The OS in 2017) has applied his unique hybrid approach of combining his own analysis, primary source readings, poetics and vintage comics to this piece on Raymond Roussel, with whom many readers may indeed be unfamiliar (much to Roussel’s chagrin). And it’s only the beginning for this year’s incredible gathering…

Enjoy! And share widely.

– Lynne DeSilva-Johnson, Managing Editor/Series Curator

THE GLORY OF RAYMOND ROUSSEL

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“Raymond Roussel wanted to be another Jules Verne, not a member of the avant-garde. How, then, could we tell him that one day he’d be read, but as the most radical of radicals, so far out in the vanguard that we’ve yet to catch up?”

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*Spoken to his psychologist, Pierre Janet, and recorded in the book De l’angoisse à l’extase (1926). Quoted in Raymond Roussel and the Republic of Dreams by Mark Ford.
**From the posthumously published essay “How I Wrote Certain of My Books” by Raymond Roussel, translated by Trevor Winkfield.
***As spoken to Michel Leiris. Quoted in Raymond Roussel and the Republic of Dreams by Mark Ford.
Section of poem visible on page two from Canto I of New Impressions of Africa by Raymond Roussel, translated by Mark Ford.

Johnny Damm is the author of Science of Things Familiar, forthcoming from The Operating System, and two chapbooks, Your Favorite Song (Essay Press, forthcoming) and The Old Man’s Illustrated Library: Issues # 36 & # 5 (No Press, 2015). His work has recently appeared in or is forthcoming from Poetry, Denver Quarterly, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. He is currently a doctoral candidate in creative writing at the University of Georgia and an editor at A Bad Penny Review and Opo Books & Objects.

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One Commment

  1. […] entries from past years here! You should also check out Janice’s piece on Nayyirah Waheed, Johnny’s piece on Raymond Roussel, Phillip’s piece on Essex Hemphill, and Stephen’s piece on Ronald Johnson’s Ark, […]

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