Sunday, 28 March 2010

British Surrealism

Why wasn't Surrealism popular in Britain? With this question Gists and Piths begins its survey of the British movement. The question is the right one, but the answers are not to the mark, relying a little too much on Herbert Read. Some alternative explanations could be:
  • Britain didn’t need it
  • A more relaxed literary culture
  • No equivalent of the Catholic Church in British life
  • Breton didn’t speak English.
  • Communism always a minor cult
I explore this topic a little more here.

For Sue

His Last Day

Islands now,
Mostly sea
A mist rising
We gun him down
With fingers

The last ones left…

Gone! suddenly
With a hug
And a parting wave.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Hush House

Footprints of the cold war. Part of the faster than sound festival Kathrine Sandys' sound installation at RAF Bentwaters turned the old jet testing complex into a bass drum. Its low frequencies calling out to pilots past.....

Temple Gates

A piece from a sequence based on Helen Ivory's How to make a pot of tea. A number of poems that uses a single phrase from the original to create...

Hubble Bubble

You climb from the bowl
And say thank you
_____To the teapot

Bubbling along…

In his palace
All pink and purple
A maharajah’s working hard

His fire alive
He blows smoke
Up the chimney

It trails away…

You breathe it in
Exquisitely comfortable
On silk divans

And clouds of Darjeeling
Carry you on elephants
______Across the room.


Saturday, 20 March 2010


At Thirty-Three
It was all so different from what she'd expected.
Always those rusted Volkswagens.
At one time she'd almost married a baker.
First she read Hesse, then Handke.
Now often she does crosswords in bed.
With her, men take no liberties.
For years she was a Trotskyist, but in her own way.
She's never handled a ration card.
When she thinks of Kampuchea she feels quite sick.
Her last lover, the professor, always wanted her to beat him.
Green batik dresses, always too wide for her.
Green flies on her Sparmannia.
Really she wanted to paint, or emigrate.
Her thesis, Class Struggles in Ulm 1500
To 1512 and References to them in Folksong
Grants, beginnings and a suitcase full of notes.
Sometimes her grandmother sends her money.
Tentative dances in her bathroom, little grimaces,
Cucumber juice for hours in front of the mirror.
She says, whatever happens I shan't starve.
When she weeps she looks nineteen.
Hans Magnus Enzensberger

A good way to start: Class Struggles in Ulm...

Many wonderful things here, and the thesis says it all. So, what is to be done if we sacrifice our life to an idea? An idea narrow, dry, illusory; but necessary also. Do we try a new beginning with tentative dances and little grimaces, and odd words in a vacuum? Maybe we do.