The word eunoia,’ which literally means beautiful thinking,’ is the shortest word in English that contains all five vowels. Directly inspired by the Oulipo (l’Ouvroir de Littérature Potentielle), a French writers’ group interested in experimenting with different forms of literary constraint, Eunoia is a five-chapter book in which each chapter is a univocal lipogram — the first chapter has A as its only vowel, the second chapter E, etc. Each vowel takes on a distinct personality: the I is egotistical and romantic, the O jocular and obscene, the E elegiac and epic (including a retelling of the Iliad!).
Stunning in its implications and masterful in its execution, Eunoia has developed a cult following, garnering extensive praise and winning the Griffin Poetry Prize. The original edition was never released in the U.S., but it has already been a bestseller in Canada and the U.K. (published by Canongate Books), where it was listed as one of the Times’ top ten books of 2008.
This edition features several new but related poems by Christian Bök and an expanded afterword.