Federman, Raymond: 99 Hand-Written Poems – 99 Poèmes Faits-à-la-main
ISBN 3-89693-175-X (03/2001)
206 Seiten, Ebr, EUR 16,50
This book is the result of pure chance. It has never been premediated, but it just happened by the way, while we were producing another book. Preparing the edition of Loose Shoes, there was taken the decision to publish as well an èdition de tête,
as has been done for some of Raymond Federman’s books in Germany. According to the decision of Enzensberger and Greno to publish 999 copies of the collector’s edition of Alles oder Nichts (Double or nothing) and to sell them at a price of 99 Deutschmarks, it was evident, that the number 99 had a special relation to Raymond Federman’s work in Germany.
We decided to print 99 copies of the collector’s edition and to sell them at a price of 99 Deutschmarks. Therefore the édition de tête of Loose Shoes is far more rare than the special edition of Alles oder Nichts,
but the price still remains the same.
But how should this special edition look like? Well, just printing numbers on the first or on last page, and just signing the leaf appeared to be somewhat like boring. The
decision has been taken that Raymond Federman should write a little poem in every copy. He took 99 sheets of printing paper at his home, and he began to write the poems which had to be inserted in the copies
destinated to form the édition de tête. But as you cannot swim two times in the same water, he immediately began to write down different poems. This was mainly just to escape from the boring job to write 99
times the same poem.
But, sheet after sheet was filled with his new inventions, whith his remembrances of old poems, with new French poems, with his souvenirs of his French poems, just forming a pile of sheets which began to look like a book, a book of 99 hand-written poems. Books sometimes seem not to be invented by thinking of books, but they seem to happen by chance, doing something different.
Unfortunately the order of the poems might have been destroyed. It might have happened, that opening a little box with the 99 hand-written poems in it, the box fell down on the floor. Just showing one poem, let’s say poem n° 48 or n° 50 of just n° 10 – who knows? – right in the centre of the mixed-up pile. Briefly, the sheets went out and they might have been rearranged. They were shuffled the way as the content of memory is daily shuffled for the sake of figuring out the new imanges of the past, for remembering the future.
We decided to rearrange the pile of sheets, shuffling the poems like playing cards, hopefully to rearrange in a permutative way the former order. We just stopped in the very moment, when the book had to go to printing. Maybe that we succeeded in reshaping the former order, maybe that – by shuffling the text – we re-established a completely new order which might indeed be nothing but the old order, the former order which, in fact, nobody can remember any more. There is nothing new, but oblivion.
It was evident that the new born book underwent even more changes. We decided to give a typographic interpretation of the poems. Raymond Federman had to proofread them. But as the water is continuously changing, so did the poems do as well. Suddenly the 99 hand-written poems were nothing but the manuscript of a completely new book, which had been never forseen, never been planned: The typographic version of 99 hand-written poems.