Hundred Thousand Billion Poems

Hundred Thousand Billion Poems

Where can one find Raymond Queneau’s Cent Mille Milliard des Poemes? Goodness, I must lay my hands upon it, even though I know I will never be able to read it! Created in such a way that one shuffles the poem lines to discover newer and richer poems with each combination, it has been designed to take more than a lifetime to digest. It’s an impossible book, and I can not possibly express how much that makes my heart sing! But where can I find it? It was originally published in 1961, but there was some kerfuffle with rights, it seems.

An English translation by Beverley Charles Rowe, which uses the same rhyme sounds and thereby recreates the seamless combinations of Queneau’s work, was published online in 2015, but I’d like to see the French version. Amazon? Nope.

How can I not have heard about this before now? The marriage of mathematics and literature just sets my blood on fire. I adore the fact that I had to wait this long in my life to stumble across Cent Mille Milliard des Poemes. It means there’s still so much more to discover.


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