Poetry, Fortner Anderson, 72 pgs, Demotic Locutions Press, fortneranderson.com, $9.99
In the grand Oulipo tradition, Considerations sees Montreal’s Fortner Anderson undertake a constrained writing project: 1,000 numbered sentences, each with only one verb. Each of these verbs are one of the most commonly used ones in the English language. Every sentence begins with “Once I,” with a past form of the verb, and then a personal memory.
It winds up looking like this: “93. Once I drew blood in a drunken scuffle over nothing in particular,” or “439. Once I interpreted Superman’s abandonment of arch criminals on a cold and slippery mountaintop as a gross abuse of his superpowers.”
The considerations in Considerations cover a wide range of emotions and excitement. In one, Anderson mundanely notes that: “663. Once I bit my tongue twice in the same conversation for no apparent reason.” A few lines before, they happily recount that, “656. Once I rubbed the small of my girlfriend’s naked back with increasing enthusiasm,” (same).
Later, they even more mundanely let us know that, “777. Once I boosted my game for white teeth with triple-action toothpaste.” This is of course a little bit after they had a political awakening, “775. Once I advocated for re-education of all capitalists, bourgeoisie, petite bourgeoisie, members of the opportunistic proletariat and all those lumpenproletariat without sufficient class consciousness.”
That Anderson is able to produce this much work within the constraint they have set for themselves is truly impressive.
That said, and if I’m being honest, it’s hard to plow through all 1000 considerations. The conceit here is one that you “get” relatively quickly, and will run out of gas at a different point for each reader. Not new for an ambitious, high concept zine! It’s a piece of work that is worth engaging with, but it works a bit better as something you meander and leapfrog through the pages, not one that you really sit down and read front to back.
Treat it like a daily Far Side calendar, serving yourself to a gag or observation when you feel like it, Gregorian year be damned. It’s an effective homage to Anderson’s influences and inspirations, and one that captures the essence that is common in so much of their work.