by Johannes Goransson on Jul.01, 2011
In light of recent discussions on this blog regarding Surrealism and literary influences, I thought this might be an opportune time to ask a favor of all Montevidayo readers . . .
I’ve been working on generating a list of contemporary American Surrealist poets. I’m interested in writers whose work exhibits a significant debt to Surrealism and whose poetry is dominated by the “surrealist impulse.” The influence can be from French and European Surrealism, Latin American Surrealism, Negritude/Caribbean Surrealism, or elsewhere. I realize this opens up a bit of a can of worms, as the legacy of Surrealism and the influence of Surrealism is significant. But I’d rather keep it somewhat open-ended so that the work itself defines the parameters rather than my particular definition. . . I also tend to agree with Johannes in his most recent post about “counterfeit lineages” and many poets/scholars (e.g. Silliman) who exert a kind of “obsessive lineage-making.” This is not my intention. I elaborate on some of my discomfort with literary influence in a comment to Joyelle’s post from June 24th: Influence = Deformation Zone (A Telex from Solaris).
So, I’ll work by exemplification to shape the definition and hone the list when necessary. I’m using this for a number of things:
1. a scholarly work on Neo-Surrealism
2. a possible reading series at MoMA where I currently teach
3. And an anthology of Neo-Surrealism that I am putting together with Michael Leong. We have both done quite a bit of work in this area separately, but are just now beginning the collaborative process. We both thought that casting a wide net and seeing what surfaces is one way to avoid an obsessive Surrealist orthodoxy.
Some of the obvious suspects include Russell Edson, James Tate, Charles Simic, Will Alexander, George Kalamaras, John Yau, Bernadette Mayer, John Olson, as well as NY School poets like Asbhery and Beats like Ginsberg. I even include Language Poets via the lens of Surrealism, which is what I wrote my dissertation on several years ago (e.g. Michael Palmer, Lyn Hejinian, Ron Silliman). So, some of the choices will be controversial, which is, of course, great. And, that’s part of the point. I wonder if it is possible to suggest lineages and influence while subverting the notion of lineage and influence at the same time? So, both Michael and I want to cast a wide net and see what comes to the surface. . . .
I’m especially interested in younger writers and more recent manifestations of the Surreal; e.g. I would include Johannes and Lara Glenum in this list. I would also include Matthew Roher and Jeffery McDaniel, as well as Dean Young. Anyway, I think you all get the idea. At the moment we’re looking for Americans only (at least for now). This of course means more challenges: does this exclude Andrei Codrescu and Tomaž Šalamun (important Neo-Surrealists) who have been living in America for years…But for now, a list of writers…. Feel free to add your own name. And thanks.