Archives for posts with tag: surrealism

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BIRDS APPEARING IN A DREAM
By Michael Collier

One had feathers like a blood-streaked koi,

another a tail of color-coded wires.

One was a blackbird stretching orchid wings,

another a flicker with a wounded head.
 
All flew like leaves fluttering to escape,

bright, circulating in burning air,

and all returned when the air cleared.

One was a kingfisher trapped in its bower,
 
deep in the ground, miles from water.

Everything is real and everything isn’t.

Some had names and some didn’t.

Named and nameless shapes of birds,
 
at night my hand can touch your feathers

and then I wipe the vernix from your wings,

you who have made bright things from shadows, 

you who have crossed the distances to roost in me.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michael Collier is an American poet, teacher, creative writing program administrator and editor. He has published five books of original poetry, a translation of Euripedes‘ Medea, a book of prose pieces about poetry, and has edited three anthologies of poetry. From 2001 to 2004 he was the Poet Laureate of Maryland. As of 2011, he is the director of the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, a professor of creative writing at the University of Maryland, College Park, and the poetry editorial consultant for Houghton Mifflin (now Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). (Read more at Wikipedia.org.)

Illustration: “The Promise” (1966) by René Magritte 

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Book of DreamsJack Kerouac‘s dream diary originally published by City Lights Books in 1961 and reissued in 2001, is  Kerouac at his most Kerouacian (or is it Kero-Wacky-an?) — which is a good thing. Whatever he writes, Kerouac’s deep, utter charm and sincerity shine through.

In the book’s preface, Kerouac writes:“The reader should know that this is just a collection of dreams that I scribbled after I woke up from my sleep — They were all written spontaneously, nonstop, just like dreams happen, sometimes written before I was even wide awake — The characters that I’ve written about in my novels reappear in these dreams in weird new dream situations…and they continue the same story which is the one story that I always write about. The heroes of On the RoadThe Subterraneans, etc., reappear here doing further strange things for no other particular reason than that the mind goes on, the brain ripples, the moon sinks, and everybody hides their heads under pillows with sleepingcaps. Good. And good because the fact that everybody in the world dreams every night ties all mankind together shall we say in one unspoken Union and also proves that the world is really transcendental…”

Book of Dreams also includes a “Table of Characters” where Kerouac lists how the dream players correspond with characters in his novels. For example, Cody Pomeray in JK’s dreams is Dean Moriarity in On the Road.

Find the book here at Amazon.com.

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“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”

ROALD DAHL

Painting: “The False Mirror” (1928) by Rene Magritte

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Today marks the 130th anniversary of the birth of Franz Kafka, born on July 3, 1883 in Prague (Bohemia, Austria-Hungary). In a piece of unplanned symmetry, the Charles Bukowski poem we posted yesterday (“I Like Your Books”) ends with the line, “let ’em go back to Kafka.” So, yes, today we are going back to Kafka and will post a variety of quotes from the great author — and he had much to say about books and writing.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Franz Kafka (July 3, 1883 –  June 3, 1924) was a German-language writer of novels and short stories, regarded by critics as one of the most influential authors of the 20th century. His major works include The Metamorphosis, The Trial, and The Castle. A lawyer by training, Kafka worked in an insurance company and wrote short stories in his spare time — but only a few of his works were published during his lifetime. Kafka’s unfinished manuscripts were published posthumously, mostly by his friend Max Brod, who ignored Kafka’s wish to destroy the material. Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre are among the writers influenced by Kafka’s work; the term Kafkaesque has entered the English language to describe surreal situations such as those in his writing. (Read more at Wikipedia.org.)

Artwork: Franz Kafka by Andy Warhol (1980)

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BIRDS AGAIN
by Jim Harrison

A secret came a week ago though I already

knew it just beyond the bruised lips of consciousness.

The very alive souls of thirty-five hundred dead birds

are harbored in my body. It’s not uncomfortable.

I’m only temporary habitat for these not-quite —
weightless creatures. I offered a wordless invitation

and now they’re roosting within me, recalling

how I had watched them at night

in fall and spring passing across earth moons,

little clouds of black confetti, chattering and singing

on their way north or south. Now in my dreams 

I see from the air the rumpled green and beige,

the watery face of earth as if they’re carrying

me rather than me carrying them. Next winter

I’ll release them near the estuary west of Alvarado

and south of Veracruz. I can see them perching

on undiscovered Olmec heads. We’ll say goodbye

and I’ll return my dreams to earth.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jim Harrison is the author of thirty books, including Legends of the Fall, Dalva, and Shape of the Journey. His work has been translated into two dozen languages and produced as four feature-length films. In 2007, Mr. Harrison was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He divides his time between Montana and southern Arizona.

Painting: “L’Homme au Chapeau Melon” (1964) by René Magritte

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BIRDS APPEARING IN A DREAM
By Michael Collier

One had feathers like a blood-streaked koi,

another a tail of color-coded wires.

One was a blackbird stretching orchid wings,

another a flicker with a wounded head.
 
All flew like leaves fluttering to escape,

bright, circulating in burning air,

and all returned when the air cleared.

One was a kingfisher trapped in its bower,
 
deep in the ground, miles from water.

Everything is real and everything isn’t.

Some had names and some didn’t.

Named and nameless shapes of birds,
 
at night my hand can touch your feathers

and then I wipe the vernix from your wings,

you who have made bright things from shadows, 

you who have crossed the distances to roost in me.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michael Collier is an American poet, teacher, creative writing program administrator and editor. He has published five books of original poetry, a translation of Euripedes‘ Medea, a book of prose pieces about poetry, and has edited three anthologies of poetry. From 2001 to 2004 he was the Poet Laureate of Maryland. As of 2011, he is the director of the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, a professor of creative writing at the University of Maryland, College Park, and the poetry editorial consultant for Houghton Mifflin (now Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). (Read more at Wikipedia.org.)

Illustration: “The Promise” (1966) by René Magritte 

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It’s been a while since we checked in with Cecilia Gimenez, the 80-something artist from Spain who decided to dust off her paintbox and try to fix up Ecce Homo,” a flaking fresco of Christ’s face on the wall of her church.

At first, Cecilia was in trouble for botching the restoration — which was so off the mark that it even inspired a zombie-looking Halloween costume. The church threatened to sue for the cost of a professional restoration, but the situation gained so much international notoriety that soon tourists, gawkers, and art aficionados were flocking to Borja, Spain — boosting community revenues and adding to the coffers of the church, which charged a fee to view the fresco.

The next plot twist occurred when Cecilia Gimenez demanded a cut of the proceeds. I believe she also intends to trademark her artwork — which is appearing on T-shirts, coffee mugs, postcards, and other lucrative sites.

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The Cecilia Prize was established to honor the artist who has inspired so many others to pick up their paint brushes, colored markers, Bic pens, and worn-down pencils — and begin to create art. The contest has received over 5,000 submissions from people offering their own wild and varied forms of “Ecce Homo” restoration. Whether you are a believer, nonbeliever, atheist, or agnostic, The Cecilia Prize is a philosophical exercise in contemplating the endless faces of the ineffable, the mysterious, and the creative spirit.

In this blog, we’ve featured entries that serve as homage to famous paintings or are rendered in the style of renowned artists (Warhol and Picasso, for example). Today’s entry by Mark Ferguson is based on René Magritte‘s celebrated painting “The Treachery of Images” (1929). The French phrase in the painting (“Ceci n’est pas une pipe”) means “This is not a pipe.” The joke is that it’s not a pipe — just a picture of one. (Sort of like “I’m not a doctor, but I play one on TV.”)

I have a feeling that the Belgian Surrealist would have enjoyed the whole Cecilia Gimenez passion play. According to my go-to source (okay, it’s Wikipedia), René Magritte‘s work “challenges observers’ preconditioned perceptions of reality.” And, after all, isn’t Cecilia Gimenez doing the same thing?

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“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

ALBERT EINSTEIN

Illustration: “Sky and Water I” (1938), Woodcut by M.C. Escher

Note: I woke up thinking about this Escher illustration today and just had to find a way to include it. I often see Escher images when I have a migraine coming on — and hope that’s not the case today!

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While browsing at the library recently, I ran across Book of Dreams, Jack Kerouac‘s dream diary originally published by City Lights Books in 1961 and reissued in 2001. This was my first encounter with Book of Dreams, and it’s Kerouac at his most Kerouacian (or is it Kero-Wacky-an?) — which is a good thing. Whatever he writes, Kerouac’s deep, utter charm and sincerity shine through.

In the book’s preface, Kerouac writes: “The reader should know that this is just a collection of dreams that I scribbled after I woke up from my sleep — They were all written spontaneously, nonstop, just like dreams happen, sometimes written before I was even wide awake — The characters that I’ve written about in my novels reappear in these dreams in weird new dream situations…and they continue the same story which is the one story that I always write about. The heroes of On the Road, The Subterraneans, etc., reappear here doing further strange things for no other particular reason than that the mind goes on, the brain ripples, the moon sinks, and everybody hides their heads under pillows with sleepingcaps. Good. And good because the fact that everybody in the world dreams every night ties all mankind together shall we say in one unspoken Union and also proves that the world is really transcendental…”

Book of Dreams also includes a “Table of Characters” where Kerouac lists how the dream players correspond with characters in his novels. For example, Cody Pomeray in JK’s dreams is Dean Moriarity in On the Road.

Here’s an excerpt from a “silver” dream in the book: “I goof, discovering a long paper bar of silver worth a fortune but tore it up and shortened it and didn’t care and now my sister’s fixing it, to get the money, so now I want the money too — She’s pasting it on the wall, in her shorts, it’s Sarah Avenue — it’s a long paper tape of ‘silver paper’ found and reaped in the mines…” 

As of this writing (9/23/12),  a 1961 first edition is available through Amazon for just 97 cents (plus $3.99 shipping) — find the link here.