Arte Es Vida

Recipe For A Dadaist Poem by arteesvida
November 27, 2006, 2:03 am
Filed under: Journaling, Mixed Media

Dadaism was a literary and artistic movement from the early part of the 20th century (1916-1923 is considered the heyday of the movement). Tristan Tzaza, Hugo Ball, Hans Arp, and Richard Huelsenbeck created the Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich, Switzerland as a place to showcase their group art efforts. Defining Dadaism isn’t easy. There was a hugely diverse amount of art being created under the Dadaist umbrella. Most of it was widely considered to be in complete defiance of all artistic tradition and wildly pessimistic. In fact Tzara himself, abandoned Dadaism by 1930 for the equally strange but more ebullient Surrealist movement.

However, Tzara’s recipe for a Dadaist poem lives on in books, magazines, newspapers, and on the web. Part word game, part collage, and part free-association, the Dadaist poem also makes a wonderful journaling exercise!

“Recipe For A Dadaist Poem”
Tristan Tzara, 1920
Take a newspaper.
Take a pair of scissors.
Choose an article as long as you are planning to make your poem.
Cut out the article.
Then cut out each of the words that make up this article and put them in the bag.
Shake it gently.
Then take the scraps one after the other in the order in which they left the bag.
Copy conscientiously.
This poem will be like you.
And here you are a writer, infinitely original and endowed with a sensibility that is charming though beyond the understanding of the vulgar.
I did my Dadaist poem entry slightly different. I used a paragraph from a descriptive travel article from Gourmet magazine, and I didn’t cut out each word individually. There were a couple of two or three word phrases I left intact because I was curious how they would look in a new configuration. I also removed my words and glued the directly to the journal page rather than copy them down. I did a watercolor background on the page first, then glued the words on one by one.

The text by itself reads: People’s pleasure sharing
In a shocking display
Fertility added
Raises appreciated
In food
Magically transformed
Surely this is it.
Every hard tomorrow
Has subtle nights
We provide
Daily land to concuer
We gracefully
Filled pleasures
Of ladies and gentleman
Under the burning sun
A table around them
A collective bravo
Rises as if by prayer
Among work of cooks
Tonight it’s some
Other mutiny
Delicious affection
Turn the conditions
In the hard like rhythm
Caressing over and over
Slowly understanding fear
We’d planted
Across the soil
They move
While the rest of us stumble.
–Faith Harper, 2004

It might be really fun to take the Dadaist poem a step further, and write an additional entry deconstructing your creation. What does the piece mean to you? What symbolism was created? Did you find the piece reflected your thoughts and intentions well? While the Dadaist poem is a great journaling exercise in itself, it can also be a wonderful journaling prompt to explore further!

2 Comments so far
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Love how easy it is to find Tzara’s poem.
WOW. I am currently working on a pilot residency with Arts Integration at a Maryland school in Anne Arundel County. This is going to be one of my exercises this week with the students. We are also working with shadow perception from organic objects as a drawing connection with Dadaist poetry.

Comment by David Cunningham

[…] To try on your own here’s a good Dada Poem how to Arte es Vida. […]

Pingback by Day four: Dadaism or serial killer | 21 Days to Create: The Mayan Challenge

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