Friday Freeforall: Of Lists and Surrealists

05 Nov
The Persistence of Memory is one of the most f...

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10:09, Friday [finally], 5 November, 2010 – Atlanta

Lists. I think we will continue. You have a weekend ahead to go nuts collecting words, phrases, imagery, and lists. To go back to the Surrealists, mentioned in my last Friday Freeforall, when I discussed freewrites, I want to focus on their use of imagery, which bordered on the absurd but to them was a truth. Look at some surrealist paintings which to you may look wacky, but to the artists represented a truth about what they depicted. Why practice surreal imagery? Because it is fun. More importantly, if you, like I, have difficulty letting go of convention and the real, this is good practice.

The exercise is one  given by a friend and former colleague, Jack Penha [writing name James Penha, poet, and publisher of The New Verse News, which “presents politically progressive poetry on current events and topical issues”], during a class I took from him. Read through this list of  images of the kind the Surrealists enjoy:

a sink full of Brussels sprouts

a dripping faucet

a young girl sings a song in the attic

the sound of someone swallowing

a wall made out of fur

the smell of wet dog hair

a bell ringing once every ________

a knife covered with sugar

cobwebs breaking across a face

a scorpion inside a head of lettuce

a doctor with a head that looks like a cabbage

a voice shouting, “One more time for our dead friends!”

a voice whispering

someone screaming, “Now! Now!”

a boy watching static on television

a mother and child sharing a cigar

a hairless dog

a ball rolling down a hallway

a girl who has no tongue trying to speak

an upside-down tree

a black lake

In the next 12 minutes, make up as many of your own surrealistic images as you can, to add to this list. Select a series of images that seem to you to work together in a surrealistic way and create a poem. Here’s my stab at it:

Flamingos walk into a dark tunnel

where a fan blows wind chimes soundless

while the knife whispers to the

fractured moonbeam shining through the

window: I will not hurt you and the

grinning woman in the corner slides

her rings over fleshless fingers and

rolls her eyeball inwards to watch

as her brain leaks out of her sockets

into a bathtub full of brussel sprouts

where a man is being stapled for

tripping over a rubberband while

painting layer upon layer of nail polish

on the walls of the dark tunnel into

which the flamingos walk.

So go ahead and let go. Go nuts. And, above all, have fun.

1 Comment

Posted by on 05/11/2010 in poetry, writing


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One response to “Friday Freeforall: Of Lists and Surrealists

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