This poem is written Oulipo-style based on a challenge posted on the ModPo Facebook page by Massimo Soranzio, a fellow Oulipostian. Originally, Massimo shared an essay question from the Italian State Exam, in which students who chose the poetry option were to explain the first line of a poem by Salvatore Quasimodo. Within the comments section, several commenters suggested that the FB group write their own responses to the exam question. Massimo chose to frame his as an Oulipo response, which led me to think that I could write a cento based on selected quotes from Massimo’s original post and the FB comments section. The first line of my poem is alsothe first line of the Quasimodo poem assigned to the students.
“It may be a true sign of life:”
Conjuring up absurd questions –
Could it be more subjective?
Any answer would require more experience.
We are beginning to get hints of that,
not meant to be provocative, just seeking context,
without knowing anything else.
Petty minds thinking great thoughts.
What is meaningful in our lives?
That’s only question 1; there’s much more.
To face the challenge of this question,
focus on the contrast between doubt…and certainty.
I have craved some silence.
– the first glimmer of an idea –