Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Expansive Poetics - 107 (Philippe Soupault)



[Philippe Soupault (1897-1990)]

AG: So you can do it in a short form too. You don't have to write a big long long (poem). So we go back to "the frogs", back to the French, to Benjamin Peret (he's after (Robert) Desnos (where is Peret (in our anthology)?  [Allen searches through the class anthology] - maybe earlier, yeah - 1899. Let's see, we have Peret, we have (Philippe) Soupault) - Souplault - 1897 - Now Soupault is the man considered by.. French.. 1897.. Philippe Soupault. There's Tristan Tzara, and then there's Andre Breton, and then there's Philippe Soupault - 1897, French. 

Now this is where they're doing this somersault of the mind in short form, so there'll be all these witty little saltimbanque tricks 

"To Drink" ("Servitudes") - "Yesterday it was night/but the billboards sang/the trees stretched out/the hairdresser's mannequin smiled at me/No Smoking/No Spitting/rays of sunlight in my hand, you said/there are/  I invent unknown streets/new continents blossom/the papers will report it tomorrow/Beware of the painting/I'm strolling naked with a cane in my hand." 
("Il a fait nuit hier/ mais les affiches chantent/ les arbres s'étirent/la statue de cire du coiffeur me sourit/Défense de crater/ Défense de fumer/des rayons de sol dans les mains tu m'as dit/ Il y a quatorze/  J'invente des rues inconnues/de nouveau continents fleurissent/les journaux paraitront demain/Prenez garde  à la peinture /J'irai me promener nu et la canne à la main")  

So one thing you can do, one thing I found, if you're interested in writing, is start yourself a big long epic catalogue poem, and then you run out of inspiration in twelve lines, and then you look at it and you realize it's a whole poem by itself and you don't have to go any further, you already did the somersault. And that's what's happening here. These may have begun like that. I have a funny poem on Vachel Lindsay which I thought was going to be a big elegy to Vachel Lindsay like some huge monstrous "Boomlay boomlay, boom lay, boom" [Allen quotes here from Lindsay's poem "The Congo"]  and it wound up twelve lines! [editorial note - it  ran actually to ten!] - [Allen begins reading] - "You're sitting with your suspenders on the bed/The shadow hand lifts a pistol to your head/Your shade falls over on the floor" -  (and) then I was going to go, "tah-da, but I warn you because.." instead I couldn't .. the telephone rang, or I sneezed, or something, and I forgot what I was going to write about. I got bored with doing it over again - the mechanical big long poem. But then I looked at it, and it was just right - enough. 

"It's time/G'bye"..  - "Departure", this (poem by Soupault) is called - "The crowd swarms/A man jostled, agitated/The cries/of women around me/each rushes by bumping me/That's how night falls/I'm cold/With these words I make you smile" - So, the consciousness of writing the poem and the effect of the poem on the reader - bam! - right in front of you there - "I'll make you smile with these words". (The next poem), "Horizon" - "The whole city has entered my room/the trees are vanishing/and the night sticks on my fingers/The houses become transatlantic/the roar od the sea rises over me/In two days we arrive in the Congo/I cross the Equator and the Tropic of Capricorn/I know there are countless hills/Notre Dame hides the Little Dipper and the aurora borealis" - [(Probably a very literal line at that moment)] - "night falls drop by drop/I wait second by second/Give me a drink and a last cigarette/I will return to Paris." - [(Probably sitting there in Paris, writing. But then, a nice title - "Horizon" - how far in the mind can you go?,  you know, geographically.)] - (The name of the next poem) "Francis Picabia" (who was one of the original Dadaists) - "Why/did you want to be buried with your four dogs/a newspaper/and your hat/You asked for "Bon Voyage" to be written on your tomb/You'll be taken for afool up there." - Then, here's a pure Surrealist thing - a four-line [editorial note - actually five-line] Surrealist shot ("Sunday") -  "The airplane waves in the telephone wires" - [(Well, it's literal - "The airplane weaves in the telephone wires" - you're looking through the telephone wires and there's the airplane going up and down)] - "and the fountain sings the same song' - [(Well, true)] - "At the pilots' reunion the cocktails are orange" - [(That was probably true also)] - "But the mechanics have white eyes/and the lady has lost her smile in the woods." - [(So that's really charming)] -  These are all translated by Andy Mayer (one of the students). Is he here? Well, Andy in our class translated these.

[Audio for the above can be heard herebeginning at  approximately seventy-nine-and-a-half minutes in and continuing to approximately eighty-four minutes in] 



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