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Futurism was a movement in art, and litterature (poetry) in mainly Italy and Russia. There are some dark passages in how futurism has been used by both fascism and leninism, but today we are not going to delve on the darker past (that came much later).

The history of Futurism begins with the The founding and Manifesto of Futurism written by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti in 1909 and published in French in le Figaro. In the Manifesto declared that an artistic work without an aggressive element could not be considered a masterpiece. In art this led to a variety of cubism that put strong emphasis on movement.

Speed of an automobile by Giacomo Balla

Speed of an automobile by Giacomo Balla

Marinetti furthermore enunciated the principles of Futurism in relation to poetry in “Parole in Libertà” (“Words in Freedom”), demanding a language free of syntax and logical ordering that allowed the poet to rapidly convey intense emotion. In “Immaginazione Senza Fili” (“Wireless Imagination”) and “Analogia Disegnata” (“Pictorialized Analogy”), he discussed the maximum freedom of imagery and metaphor, which led to expressive use of typography—a varying of font sizes and styles within a word or on the same line and free disposition of words on the printed page.

This led futurist poets to concrete poetry, where the the meaning is partly (or wholly) conveyed by visual means.

Concrete poetry

Concrete poetry

Additional concepts include, abolition of syntax, onomatopoeia, metrical dissociation (free verse), and compressing writing while avoiding all lyricism (no futuristic novel exists).

Futurism is strongly associated with revolution, technology, moving wheels and optimism, and in Russia the group around Vladimir Mayakovsky become a prominent force in the Bolshevism, starting with his manifesto: “A slap in the face of public taste”. But though influential directly after the revolution he later was renounced in favour of the Soviet Social Realism, but was more or less canonized after his death by Josef Stalin.

Our March
By Vladimir Mayakovsky

Beat the squares with the tramp of rebels!
Higher, rangers of haughty heads!
We’ll wash the world with a second deluge,
Now’s the hour whose coming it dreads.
Too slow, the wagon of years,
The oxen of days — too glum.
Our god is the god of speed,
Our heart — our battle drum.
Is there a gold diviner than ours/
What wasp of a bullet us can sting?
Songs are our weapons, our power of powers,
Our gold — our voices — just hear us sing!
Meadow, lie green on the earth!
With silk our days for us line!
Rainbow, give color and girth
To the fleet-foot steeds of time.
The heavens grudge us their starry glamour.
Bah! Without it our songs can thrive.
Hey there, Ursus Major, clamour
For us to be taken to heaven alive!
Sing, of delight drink deep,
Drain spring by cups, not by thimbles.
Heart step up your beat!
Our breasts be the brass of cymbals.

Today, comrades, I want you to apply the energy and the tools of Futurism and apply it to a new poem. Let loose the anger, look forward and look forward. Chose your own reason for revolting, don’t look back look forwards.

Challenge me and shock me. Provoke me with a blast of words. Damn be slavery of syntax. We are young and free, let’s change the world. Find your own target of anger.

When you have written your futuristic poem, link up below and visit your poetic friends and learn from them.