Diane Schoemperlen in Quill & Quire, The Bull Calf
In the December issue of Quill & Quire, Diane Schoemperlen offers up a introduction to found text and collage, and the genesis of her latest book, By the Book:
The stories in By the Book are in the tradition of the objet trouvé – taking the form of a found narrative or conversation or meditation – each being an expanded, exploded, and embroidered rearrangement of the original material. The selection and ordering of the sequences in each story was a very labour-intensive and time-consuming process, but one that I found immensely enjoyable and satisfying.
Reading and rereading each old book with a pencil in hand, I searched for its hidden treasures and marked each sentence that resonated for me. Then I moved them around like puzzle pieces, working out of instinct and my love of language and its unpredictable largesse, until the whole thing began to gel. More often than not, I was happily surprised by the power of the juxtapositions and how far I could take them. It was a matter of simultaneously trying to control the material while remaining open to accident, chance, and serendipity.
In The Bull Calf, Sarah Bezan offered up a positive take on By the Book:
Perhaps the most successful section of the book, entitled “By the Book or: Alessandro in the New World,” reads between the lines of the Nuovissima Grammatica Accelerata: Italian-Inglese Enciclopedia Popolare (1900), a book intended to be read by new Italian immigrants to the United States. The original text, which includes advice, notes on grammar and nomenclature, and a background on the American Constitution, also traces correspondence that can be used by its readers to navigate “everyday situations such as discussing the weather, looking for work, getting a hair cut, buying groceries, and visiting the doctor,” as Schoemperlen writes in the section’s introduction (2). Interspersed with extracts from the Nuovissima (indicated by Schoemperlen with the use of boldface), this section imagines a real world of love and loss in the character of Alessandro, who longs for his home country, and for the beautiful young women of the New World, in equal measure...Redeeming personal accounts and stories left untold between the lines of remaining documents, By The Book toys with the notion of completeness. Pieced together “the old-fashioned way by the traditional cut-and-paste method with real paper, real scissors, and real glue” (xi), her most recent book explores the enigmatic possibilities of juxtaposing unfamiliar elements in a bold creative practice of scission and adhesion.