Hello Fellow Poets and Welcome to Tuesday Poetics where today we will explore surrealism in poetry-
When I started thinking about the prompt today and what I wanted to do, I picked up one of my favorite books called Abandon Yourself to Love, by Renée Locks and Joseph McHugh. It’s an odd book from the 80’s where there are sayings and graphics to go along with them.
Within the book, is this tidbit:
“A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle.” (credited to a bumper sticker)
And to give you insight on how my mind sometimes works, I then immediately thought of the old joke:
How many surrealists does it take to change a lightbulb? (Hint, there is a correlation, I promise. And the answer is below at the end of my rantings)
So, that in turn led me to today’s prompt!
Below is a brief guide to Surrealism in Poetry from poets.org:
Surrealism emerged as the direct result of the publication of André Breton’s first Le Manifeste du Surréalisme (Manifesto of Surrealism) (1924). In this manifesto, Breton presented two definitions of surrealism:
SURREALISM, noun, masc., Pure psychic automatism by which it is intended to express, either verbally or in writing, the true function of thought. Thought dictated in the absence of all control exerted by reason, and outside all aesthetic or moral preoccupations.
ENCYCL. Philos. Surrealism is based on the belief in the superior reality of certain forms of association heretofore neglected, in the omnipotence of the dream, and in the disinterested play of thought. It leads to the permanent destruction of all other psychic mechanisms and to its substitution for them in the solution of the principal problems of life.
The first definition speaks to the surrealist methodology—the use of techniques, such as automatic writing, self-induced hallucinations, and word games like the exquisite corpse to make manifest repressed mental activities. The second definition lays out the surrealist view of reality and expresses the surrealist’s desire to open the vistas of the arts through the close observation of the dream state and the free play of thought.
The roots of surrealism can be traced back to Charles Baudelaire, Arthur Rimbaud, and Isidore Ducasse, also known as Comte de Lautréamont. Surrealists also found inspiration in the poetic methods, such as calligrammatic poetry, used by Stéphane Mallarmé and Guillaume Apollinaire. The first text that took up the banner of surrealism and used automatic writing as its methodology was Les Champs magnétiques (The Magnetic Fields), penned collaboratively by Breton and Philippe Soupault.
The surrealist coalition that formed around Breton included such young French poets as Louis Aragon, Antonin Artaud, René Crevel, Robert Desnos, Paul Éluard, Michel Leiris, Benjamin Péret, and eventually the Dadaist Tristan Tzara. The group’s membership fluctuated due to changes in ideology and personality clashes. During this time several journals served as a space for the expression of the growing surrealist ideals, journals such as Révolution surréaliste (1924-29), Le Surréalisme au service de la révolution (1930-33), and Minotaure (1933-39). A second generation of surrealists included René Char, Aimé Césaire, and David Gascogne.
The final stage of surrealism began after the end of World War II. By this point surrealism had disseminated around the world in various diluted forms. The far-flung practitioners were held together by their use of personal juxtapositions, placing distant realities together, so that the interconnections between them were only apparent to the creator.
I am sharing a few poems you may enjoy written by those associated with the surrealist movement, both old and new.
Arthur Rimbaud – 1854-1891
No one’s serious at seventeen.
—On beautiful nights when beer and lemonade
And loud, blinding cafés are the last thing you need
—You stroll beneath green lindens on the promenade.
Lindens smell fine on fine June nights!
Sometimes the air is so sweet that you close your eyes;
The wind brings sounds—the town is near—
And carries scents of vineyards and beer. . .
—Over there, framed by a branch
You can see a little patch of dark blue
Stung by a sinister star that fades
With faint quiverings, so small and white. . .
June nights! Seventeen!—Drink it in.
Sap is champagne, it goes to your head. . .
The mind wanders, you feel a kiss
On your lips, quivering like a living thing. . .
The wild heart Crusoes through a thousand novels
—And when a young girl walks alluringly
Through a streetlamp’s pale light, beneath the ominous shadow
Of her father’s starched collar. . .
Because as she passes by, boot heels tapping,
She turns on a dime, eyes wide,
Finding you too sweet to resist. . .
—And cavatinas die on your lips.
You’re in love. Off the market till August.
You’re in love.—Your sonnets make Her laugh.
Your friends are gone, you’re bad news.
—Then, one night, your beloved, writes. . .!
That night. . .you return to the blinding cafés;
You order beer or lemonade. . .
—No one’s serious at seventeen
When lindens line the promenade.
29 September 1870
Here is an audio link to My Father’s Love Letters, by Yusef Komunyakaa
Charles Simic – 1938-
Enter without knocking, hard-working ant.
I’m just sitting here mulling over
What to do this dark, overcast day?
It was a night of the radio turned down low,
Fitful sleep, vague, troubling dreams.
I woke up lovesick and confused.
I thought I heard Estella in the garden singing
And some bird answering her,
But it was the rain. Dark tree tops swaying
And whispering. “Come to me my desire,”
I said. And she came to me by and by,
Her breath smelling of mint, her tongue
Wetting my cheek, and then she vanished.
Slowly day came, a gray streak of daylight
To bathe my hands and face in.
Hours passed, and then you crawled
Under the door, and stopped before me.
You visit the same tailors the mourners do,
Mr. Ant. I like the silence between us,
The quiet–that holy state even the rain
Knows about. Listen to her begin to fall,
As if with eyes closed,
Muting each drop in her wild-beating heart.
Charles Baudelaire – 1821-1867
Take it easy, Sadness. Settle down.
You asked for evening. Now, it’s come. It’s here.
A choking fog has blanketed the town,
infecting some with calm, the rest with fear.
While the squalid throng of mortals feels the sting
of heartless pleasure swinging its barbed knout
and finds remorse in slavish partying,
take my hand, Sorrow. I will lead you out,
away from them. Look as the dead years lurch,
in tattered clothes, from heaven’s balconies.
From the depths, regret emerges with a grin.
The spent sun passes out beneath an arch,
and, shroudlike, stretched from the antipodes,
—hear it, O hear, love!—soft night marches in.
Do you feel inspired yet? Okay – here’s the plan. Go to your favorite place to write, relax and close your eyes. Let your mind roam free, be wild, give little thought to where you are going with this prompt. Pick up your writing instrument and put words on paper – there are no limitations other than your own (well okay there is one- please keep it to 200 words or less)- BE FREE. Try not to let your mind justify your musings.
So you all know the drill, let’s give this a whirl!
Lastly: The answer to the joke is: THE FISH
When you’ve written and posted your poem to your blog, add your link to the Blinky widget below, and then visit the other poets’ pages and read and comment on their work. Also, be sure to link back to dVerse so others can join in as well!