November Surrealism Poetry Prompt–A Musical Playlist

surrealism poetry prompt

Our November poetry theme at Tweetspeak is “Surrealism.”

This, as you might expect, presented quite the challenge when composing the month’s musically-themed playlist. Searching for a bit of inspiration, I studied up on the history of surrealist art and discovered that it sprang from Dadaist influence of the early 1900s. Surrealist art encompassed the melting clocks of Salvador Dali, Picasso’s cubist brothel, and the cello-backed woman of Man Ray. I’m no art expert, but it seems to me that the Surrealist movement was about odd juxtapositions or associations.

As you’ll see, the November playlist springs from its own sort of Dadaism–“De do do” Dadaism, that is. (Thanks to the Police for that softball.) From there, I tried to pull together odd juxtapositions or associations, and further chose instrumental pieces that I thought somehow represented the surrealist philosophical ideals.

I hope you enjoy this month’s playlist and that you grab a little inspiration as you write to the tracks. And as a bit of a bonus, I leave you with this, an odd juxtaposition in itself.


Tweetspeak’s November Surrealism Poetry Prompt:

This month’s theme at Tweetspeak is surrealism, and we’re composing poems that play with the theme. Let’s create some surrealist poetry by playing with juxtapositions and free associations. Perhaps you can gain a bit of inspiration from this month’s playlist or from other source. We’d love you to join with us, even use a Dali or Picasso as your writing prompt. How do you participate?

1.  Study up a bit on the history of surrealism, on both the artistic and philosophical underpinnings of the movement. Listen to the Tweetspeak monthly playlist.

2.  Compose a poem using surrealist concepts, juxtapositions, or associations.

3. Tweet your poems to us. Add a #TSSurreal hashtag so we can find it and maybe share it with the world.

4. If you aren’t a twitter user, leave your found poem here in the comment box.

5. At the end of the month, we’ll choose a winning poem and ask the winner to record his or her poem to be featured in one of our upcoming Weekly Top 10 Poetic Picks.

And speaking of winners, the winner of last October’s beer and wine poetry prompt was Glynn Young offered “Art Form, With Beer,” in which he wrote:

Done nobody put on a tailgate party
like us LSU fans do a tailgate party
and the beer do flow, ma cher, and
the shrimps do boil wit da crawfish
and we tro da potatoes in the pot
wit da crawfish and spill a little beer
for da seasoning but not too much
cuz da beer is brewed to be drunk,

And, after this weekend’s football game, I reckon this is a bit of a bright spot for Mr. Young.

October, though, is a clock of past zeroes melted over the broken stilted leg of an elephant. So, that being done, let’s create some surreal poetry! Who’s first?

Photo by SPDP, Creative Commons via Flickr. Post by Seth Haines


Buy a year of Every Day Poems, just $2.99 — Read a poem a day, become a better poet. In November we’re exploring the theme Surrealism.

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  1. L. L. Barkat says

    Seth! :) I love that Billy Jean video. Great “juxtaposition” indeed.

    You make my music day. Every time. :)

    (Already in love with the playlist too.)

  2. says

    Here is a multi-layered attempt at this month’s theme of surrealism. . .

    Water-Soluble Time

    I cannot keep time
    It drips like Dali
    Time ticks . . . and time . . .
    Sticks—at my folly
    Time drips in reverse
    Falls in 60-minute digression
    Springs forth and flows north
    In 60-minute aggression
    Time melts in savings
    Sometimes I’m at a loss
    I cannot keep time
    It washes over—then out
    Over face of glass,
    Then, clouded over
    Resistance is not proof
    Hands have frozen
    And seconds are aloof
    Time washes in and out
    The tide keeps time
    The tide took time
    And I watch from the beach
    . . .my place in time . . .
    Just out of reach

    © November 4, 2012, Robbie Pruitt

  3. Lens Flare says

    I am a simple man with simple tastes, average skin that bears the pit-scars of teenage angst, and a pair of dull eyes to boot. So when I saw the bear standing in the voting line–he being raised up on hind legs and wearing the naked breasts of a woman, arm heiled, head down, trying to blend in–I removed by glasses and attempted to wipe him clean. Through fresh lenses, I saw him still, this time the ghost of an eagle riding his shoulder, his beak of swords jutting toward the poll place. The rest of my comrades were affixed to smart phones, boring into screens with the persistence of night crawlers in Mississippi, so they did not see that all of our illusions had taken shape, had risen from soot soaked sidewalks and one-upped us all. And I, the most average last waker, ignored the truth and moved to the booth with the rest of the masses, for mutual holocaust is better than aloneness.

    We are opium addicts, each. Bears, eagles, and the souls of our forerunners bear witness.

  4. says

    I don’t know how many are familiar with the German surrealist Hans Bellmer, who sculpted, painted, was a photographer, printmaker, and writer. He’s primarily considered a photographer. The scholarship about him is as fascinating as the artist is, let us say, unusual in outlook.

    His work is not for those faint of heart (see “The Doll” I reference here:

    The Dilemma of Dolls

    Feel free to free-associate. Machines
    fascinate the surrealist who suffers

    a surfeit of devotion to his dolls,
    dreams up menace and dismemberment

    fatal to feminine form. In Bellmer’s
    mind bound in black-and-white, the art

    of the negative is to conjure what we
    know he takes away: The Doll has legs

    but no arms we can articulate. A movement’s
    not enough to explain the man’s unvaried

    visions once unveiled: no simple secret sign
    of beauty brutal claimed. What desire does

    the artist dares to tame. Beyond natural
    anatomy is savage-drawn. If you love

    the automaton, probe the pictures as you
    might not mere props: Read The Doll

    its his-story. What alter ego fancies fetish,
    Nazis labeled outside perspective. Life-size,

    Bellmer’s Doll’s a riddle to pawn, dream
    work to interpret. Freud might have had

    a field day with the mannequin. Memories,
    we know, make much of motifs; disturb, no

    less. See then what you can in The Doll.
    Focus not on its lacks but the constructed

    frames of reference, the perversions of fear
    explicit in a posing, the engineering of a body

    of work in which family figures are background.

  5. says

    This went far more abstract than surreal, I think. Yves Tanguy’s ‘Satin Tuning Fork’ was somewhat in my mind. In an aside of sorts, I couldn’t help but think that the surreal of the 1920s both in image and word no longer seems as surreal or unbelievable as it did then- (thinking of Max Ernst’s ‘The Barbarians’) with the extensive sci-fi and horror genres available to us now- it seems almost as if an everyday prosaic reality can sometimes be more surreal than the surreal artistry we’re supposed to be engaging with.

    My first attempt:

    The grimmled strain broke
    long upon the where
    a harbored stain
    dread simpatico praedicre
    lair of pat pater noster
    scrimmed about in large relief
    paper-thin lantern thought
    the trembled rain caught in scarlet shards
    the fire met and matched
    heave’d sigh blistered true
    …and there I drown again.

  6. says

    I needed a framework for surrealism which made me uncomfy because I thought surrealism and framework might not even GO together by definition, but I persevered. Not knowing where to start I consulted the internet to see what Google had to tell me. I found a path to Echo Poems, a style of surrealist poetry created by Aurélien Dauguet in 1972. Okay, a place to begin. Just begin. Here is my poem: Marble in a Jar, on The Brighter Side: Thank you Seth, for adding something completely new for me to explore and wrestle with…


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