Tag Archives: surrealists

Poem Tryouts:

7:00 a.m. — San Antonio

listening to Skip scrolling through his FB wall (it’s too early for music, people)

Hello, all. I’m in the throes of Christmas stuff, although much is on hold until our daughter arrives next week, so she can participate. But various things with lights are up and if I have Christmas lights on in the house, I am happy. Ready for an image? Last week’s worked so well with no accompanying possible directions from me, that I think we’ll try it again this week.

by Vladimir Kush

by Vladimir Kush

Remember that you can ignore the central image and pick one small detail to spark a poem and the image as a painting does not have to be mentioned.

Next week we will take off — yes, you too. The following week, depends. So I will see you either the last week of 2015 or the first week of 2016. To those who celebrate the season, have a merry one; for those who don’t, the good news is you can be merry, too, just for different reasons.

Happy writing, everyone.


Posted by on 15/12/2015 in exercises, poetry


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Tuesday Tryouts: Blazon It!

8:33 — Atlanta

Hello all. I decided to show you the BLAZON. The form is not stressful and can be fun.You will need to think metaphorically, much like the delight song I asked you to write some weeks back, or surrealistically, as we did some months back. I have provided links for both posts, as we have new readers, and my long time readers may need a refresher. I know I would.

Here’s an excerpt from a BLAZON, a poem that itemizes the qualities of something or someone beloved:

Free Union
a 1931 poem by Andre Breton

My wife whose hair is a brush fire
Whose thoughts are summer lightning
Whose waist is an hourglass
Whose waist is the waist of an otter caught in the teeth of a tiger
Whose mouth is a bright cockade with the fragrance of a star of the first magnitude
Whose teeth leave prints like the tracks of white mice over snow
Whose tongue is made out of amber and polished glass
Whose tongue is a stabbed wafer
The tongue of a doll with eyes that open and shut
Whose tongue is an incredible stone
My wife whose eyelashes are strokes in the handwriting of a child
Whose eyebrows are nests of swallows
My wife whose temples are the slate of greenhouse roofs
With steam on the windows
My wife whose shoulders are champagne
Are fountains that curl from the heads of dolphins over the ice
My wife whose wrists are matches
Whose fingers are raffles holding the ace of hearts
Whose fingers are fresh cut hay

If you wish to read the entire poem, you can find it here. Note that Breton starts at the top and is working his way down the form of his wife. That is one of the conventions of a blazon.

Shakespeare, in his Sonnet 130, wrote a blazon, but did so by listing what the attributes of his speaker’s beloved are not.

My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damasked, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks,
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.

I love to hear her speak, yet well I know,
That music hath a far more pleasing sound.
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress when she walks treads on the ground.
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.

Your Blazon

I am going to broaden our options by suggesting that we can pick a person, or an object, or even a concept and that we can write a blazon where we dislike rather than like something. For one of the things/persons you love/hate, itemize the qualities this thing/person has.

To help you create images of the surrealistic kind, consider, as you list, how each quality affects you and your senses (touch, taste, hearing, smell, sight) and your emotions and your imagination.

List at least fifteen qualities and next to each, jot sensory associations. In case you have not gone back to the postings, I have copied an example of metaphor associations: Patience: turtle, stone, the colour grey, glaciers…they are your associations so don’t worry if others might think them odd. You will only have the metaphors and imagery, in the end.

Pick the ones you like and model your lines after Breton, or Shakespeare, or come up with your own way to list the attributes. You want specific images, sensory associations where possible.

Once you have about fifteen lines, arrange them in an order that makes sense to you, and reads well. Eliminate lines that don’t ring true, or don’t fit. Figure out how you want to end your poem. Finally, post the poem and post your link in comments, or post the poem in the comments here. Most of all, have fun with this.

I will see you Thursday for more words to avoid, and Friday for the week’s wrapup. If you know anyone who would enjoy blazoning, feel free to share. Happy writing.


Posted by on 19/04/2011 in exercises, poetry, writing


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Friday Freeforall: Of Lists and Surrealists

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

Image via Wikipedia

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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Friday Freeforall

1:43, 29 October, 2010 – Atlanta

The colour of my tree. What a lovely thing to see each day when I look out through the window beyond my desk. Oddly, its neighbour is still mostly green. I’m hoping my tree will turn red. As a maple, it should go in that direction. That would be something for someone experiencing fall for the first time in twenty years.

For the second day in a row, discovering the ramifications of keeping a blog is keeping me from working on poetry. And I thought all I had to do was write.  Today I learned about creating links [tomorrow I shall try to create some] and uploading images and documents. Note my first image: the tree. Now I have to learn how to make the blog a little snazzier…not something easy when the main point is words, not visuals. I may have to learn to create concrete poetry. I did stray just slightly down the other path and found another blog to follow: franciszka voeltz collects details and likes to collaborate.

Before the weekend when I don’t blog [thus ensuring I will work on my poetry, perhaps], let me go back to  advice for beginning, and not so beginning, writers. Almost any writer on writing will tell you: write write write do not stop write do not edit write do not stop write write write. The problem most of us have is that we have a self-censor sitting on one of our shoulders. This censor says That sounds silly. That’s not grammatical. What kind of syntax is that? Did you put a comma in there? Did you spell that long word correctly? What kind of image is that? It doesn’t make sense. Enough of that and you will talk yourself into not writing. If your mind goes blank because you are trying so hard not to self-censor, or your mind just goes blank, don’t stop. Keep writing the last word you wrote over and over again. Your brain won’t like that and will kick back in. The surrealist writers believed that they had to reach a state beyond reality in order to find and write that which is true. What we call free-writing developed from them. Ideally you want to write several pages without stopping. If you can do that you will find when you go back through that your mind and hand have taken you down many paths. You can choose one of the paths to follow knowingly, or choose words and phrases that speak to you and pull them out as a seed to a possible poem. Rather than setting a time, set yourself a number of pages. If you have never done this before, start with two pages and write. If it will help, pick a topic, but then don’t worry or panic if you notice that instead of writing about whales, you are writing about hot air balloons. Your brain made some kind of connection. Go with it. It may take you wondrous places.

Remember: You need to write before you can write well. You need to have written something before you can worry about revision. You have to write before you can craft.

After spending the last hour reading up on copyright and whether I may or may not share a poem here, I will leave with a poem from one of my favourite poets: Robert Frost. Given the sound of the wind in my tree these days the poem is apt. The title is “The Sound of the Trees” and can be found with many other poems at the Poets’ Corner.

The Sound Of Trees

I wonder about the trees:
Why do we wish to bear
Forever the noise of these
More than another noise
So close to our dwelling place?
We suffer them by the day
Till we lose all measure of pace
And fixity in our joys,
And acquire a listening air.
They are that that talks of going
But never gets away;
And that talks no less for knowing,
As it grows wiser and older,
That now it means to stay.
My feet tug at the floor
And my head sways to my shoulder
Sometimes when I watch trees sway
From the window or the door.
I shall set forth for somewhere,
I shall make the reckless choice,
Some day when they are in voice
And tossing so as to scare
The white clouds over them on.
I shall have less to say,
But I shall be gone.


Posted by on 29/10/2010 in poetry, writing


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