A Poem From Ghérasim Luca

at the edge of a forest

whose trees are slender ideas

and each leaf a thought at bay

the vegetal reveals to us

the damned depths of an animal sect

or more precisely

an old insect anguish

waking up as man

the only way

the only basic weapon

to animate a mental state

that I hurry to write mantil

like a mantis

if only to mark

with a dry warning laugh

the devouring word

Entity and antithesis of the bush

a sort of wild and organic brush

grows in the head of that man

ravaged

by the heresy of parks and greenhouses

like the orgasm of a key

a lovely door

So the legendary passivity

the famous and ample passivity of plants

changes here to idle hate

to mad rage

to sex brawl and dare

luring by sap blood lava . . .

as rapid as the passage of woman

to beast

she empties us of a foul ancestral

wound

which in a spurt relieves us

of these fixed plaints

and these false death rattles plumbing us

our calm gestures of the interred

Now only terror

is still able to insert

in the tropism of body and of guilty

spirit

this prism as doubled echo

where brains and senses capture

the violent innocence

of a flora and a fauna

whose marriage is a long seizure

and a rape as slow as gold

in the implacable lead

And it’s around the mental equator

in the space delimited by the tropics

of a head

at the angle of the eye and what surrounds it

that the myth of a kind of utopian

jungle surges into the world

As virgin as the unknowable

or the other “face” of the moon

and never in the reach of a gun

or an axe

its prey is the snow

sand ball hip if not the trap

that the diffuse breath of a dream

lights up

For tangled

soldered to massive corkscrew keys

the vines

the branches stoves and rituals

fuse

around the forms placed

as if by miracle

at the crossroads of dryads

of druids and of man

So many points to aim at

all these yes and nos that

outside outside of time

of space and weight

select a sort of coupled oasis

and hamlet

to descend in these gods

from before the ages

the gods-place-beast-island-ash-fire

come forth as from the coupling of bird

and branch

and those exiled from the center

and from the shade of a golden foliage

will adore one day

between the walls of their somber cities


Poetry Matters

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Free Union

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8436557741_6df1d30750_b[1] Elisa Breton

Full of startling and vivid imagery, Andre Breton’s 1931 poem Free Union is one of the finest examples of Surrealist poetry as well as a magnificent and powerful declaration of love. It was a major influence on the Beats, particularly Allen Ginsberg.

A free union is a romantic bond between two or more people without legal, civil or religious regulation.

Free Union

My wife whose hair is a brush fire
Whose thoughts are summer lightning
Whose waist is an hourglass
Whose waist is the waist of an otter caught in the teeth of a tiger
Whose mouth is a bright cockade with the fragrance of a star of the first magnitude
Whose teeth leave prints like the tracks of white mice over snow
Whose tongue is made out of amber and polished glass
Whose tongue is a stabbed wafer
The tongue of a doll with eyes that open…

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Leonora Carrington – Top 10 Facts

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Above: Picture of the sculpture “Stallion” on display at the Estacion Indianilla museum in Mexico City, on April 14, 2011 as part of the exhibition of Mexican sculptor Leonora Carrington. (Getty)

Leonora Carrington was a fantastic surrealist artist and weird fiction author. Here are ten facts you need to know.

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  1. She Was a Founding Member of the Women’s Liberation Movement in Mexico
  2. Carrington was raised in a wealthy Roman Catholic family on a large estate called Crookhey Hall.
  3. She died May 25 2011 at the age of 94, and was one of the last surviving participants in the Surrealist movement of the 1930s.
  4. She remained active as a painter and sculptor throughout her life, and continued to inspire younger generations.
  5. Two weeks after her death an international group of Surrealists met in Athens to explore her proposal for “Surrealist survival kits”.
  6. She had fallen in love with the 46-year-old, married, surrealist painter Max Ernst. She intended to move to Paris with him and pursue a career as an artist.The Guardian
  7. Leonora Carrington was a revolutionary before she ever encountered the Surrealists. Born into an upper class family in Lancashire, England, Leonora learned at a very early age the injustice of society.Illinois.edu
  8. Finally after many rebellious acts and expulsions from school, she succeeded in convincing her parents to let her study art at the Amédée Ozenfant Academy in London.
  9. He (Ernst) left his wife for Carrington, his “Bride of the Wind”. The couple lived together until the outbreak of W.W.II when Ernst was taken prisoner as an enemy alien. Carrington’s work during this period moves from themes of childhood filled with magical birds and animals, to a mature art based on Celtic mythology and alchemical transformation. It is an art of sensibility rather than hallucination, one in which animal guides lead the way out of a world of men who don’t know magic, fear the night, and have no mental powers except intellect. Illinois.edu
  10. “The source of Carringtion’s magical white horse lies not in Freud’s use of the horse as a symbol of male power but in the Celtic legends that nourished her childhood…the horse is sacred to the ancient tribe of the Tuatha de Danaan…the hyena belongs to the fertile world of night; the horse becomes an image of rebirth into the light of day and the world beyond the looking glass. As symbolic intermediaries between the unconscious and the natural world, they replace male Surrealists’ reliance on the image of woman as the mediating link between man and the “marvelous” and suggest the powerful role played by Nature as a source of creative power for the woman artist (Chadwick, p. 79).”

Anthology of Black Humour

We are the Makers of Maps

A (W) Baader

In a sense, every human construction, whether mental or material, is a component in a landscape of fear because it exists in constant chaos.
-Yi fu Tuan ‘Landscapes of Fear’

So, after what seems like a forever of anxiety driven huhming and hahing I finally approved the proof copy of my chapbook We are the Makers of Maps which is, therefore, now available for sale on that there Amazon place. It’s a print only chapbook as, to be honest, there was no way that I could see to properly lay out some of the pieces contained within, especially the poem ‘An Autumn Note’.

The book contains five pieces. Two short stories, ‘The Downfall of the Good Worker Laura McTavish’ and ‘in these ways we remember’, as well as three compositions, ‘Maps’, ‘East’, and ‘An Autumn Note’.

Makers of Maps Cover v23

‘The Downfall of the Good Worker Laura McTavish’ looks at the relationship between the…

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Lord Dunsany (Edward Plunkett)

A Dreamer's Tales

Irish fantasy author Lord Dunsany (1878-1957) is one of my all time favourite writers. His work is so different to anything else that I have read, and the exciting point for me is that I haven’t read them all yet (it’s a pretty big body of work)!

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The King of Elfland’s Daughter is my favourite so far, and it’s probably the most famous of his books too. It’s well known that Dunsany was a keen hunter and it’s not so well known that I’m a keen vegetarian and animal lover, so I’m sure I receive The King of Elfland’s Daughter (which contains a fair amount of hunting) quite differently to how he perhaps intended. Having said that, Dunsany was also an animal rights campaigner and was president of his local RSPCA branch, so he confuses me greatly! I guess it had something to do with the difference between animal and pet.

The Charwoman's Shadow

Dunsany made his first literary tour to the USA in 1919, and made further such visits right up to the 1950s, notably to California. Dunsany’s own work, and contribution to the Irish literary heritage, was recognised through an honorary degree from Trinity College, Dublin… In 1957, Lord Dunsany became ill while eating with the Earl and Countess of Fingall, in what proved to be an attack of appendicitis, and died in hospital in Dublin at the age of 79. He had directed that he be buried in the churchyard of the ancient church of St. Peter and St. Paul, Shoreham, Kent, in memory of shared war times… The catalogue of Edward Plunkett, 18th Baron of Dunsany (Lord Dunsany)’s work during his 52-year active writing career is quite extensive, and is fraught with pitfalls for two reasons: first, many of Dunsany’s original books of collected short stories were later followed by reprint collections, some of which were unauthorised and included only previously published stories; and second, some later collections bore titles very similar to different original books. In 1993, S. T. Joshi and Darrell Schweitzer released a bibliographic volume which, while emphasising that it makes no claim to be the final word, gives considerable information on Dunsany’s work. Wikipedia

Many of Lord Dunsany’s stories were illustrated by Sidney H. Sime, who I created a blog post about earlier this year.

If you haven’t read any of Dunsany’s work before, I highly recommend you try a couple of his short stories. Most of them can be found for free online, or through your Kindle! The Public Domain is a wonderful thing. Please comment if you find any particularly good stories that you wish to share.

I hope for this book that it may come into the hands of those that were kind to my others and that it may not disappoint them. —Lord Dunsany (the preface for A Dreamer’s Tales)

Mike Russell and his Surreal Stories

mike-performing

Mike Russell is the author of two short story collections; Nothing Is Strange and Strange Medicine. His work is surreal and often humorous, with some stories even being described as erotic, absurd or disturbing. Mike has performed his stories in the South of England for over a decade, wearing his famous top hat with its all-seeing eye.

A review for Mike’s first collection, Nothing Is Strange: “Reader Beware: If you enjoy reading stories that are written with structure, stories that are comprised of a beginning, middle, and end, or stories that do not transcend the boundaries of reality, then this book is not for you. If, on the other hand, you want to read stories that will free you from the chains that are attached to the anchor of reality, then this is your must-read collection.

Nothing is Strange is a collection of twenty short stories in which everything is strange, but strange in a good way.

The twenty stories are miniature narratives. The collection is well written and highly imaginative. Each story takes you on a journey where the imaginary becomes reality. Instead of reason we have imagination. In place of the banal we have passion for liberation. Instead of the ordinary, we have magic.

By their very nature, the stories are freeing. They will take you to places within your mind you never knew existed. For those unaccustomed to reading surreal stories these stories may be hard to swallow. One might compare it to looking at modern art for the first time. I can only imagine how people felt the first time Duchamp exhibited his Readymades, or Picasso his art. A typical first reaction might raise the question of whether or not the artist is authentic, or is he simply trying to put one over on us.

The concept of these stories first appears to be too simple to be called art. Yet, as one delves into the collection, and crosses back and forth between the boundaries of real and unreal, one comes away with the feeling that there is more to them than at first appears – and you would be correct in this assumption.

Reading these stories feels as if you’re following footprints in the snow, footprints that take you somewhere and nowhere. Sometimes the footprints are deep and easy to follow, but sometimes they are obliterated and nearly imperceptible. The reader may, for a time, get lost. For some, tripping through these stories may be a harrowing experience. But for others, the journey on the wind of imagination will be a mind-blowing and rewarding experience.

But the magic doesn’t end there, for once discovered and devoured, the effects of a surreal adventure multiplies the further out one travels.

My advice then, dear reader, is for you to read this collection. Take a chance you may be hooked on the reality of non reality, which, in turn, will inspire you to explore other artists of the genre, some who are long gone, and others, like Mike Russell, who are our modern guides on the surreal journey.

So go ahead: Jump into the swimming pool with your clothes on. You may very well find you won’t want to get out of the water.” – Gerard Bianco

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Mike Russell’s website is StrangeBooks.com and both books are available in paperback or for Kindle. You can also read Dunce, a story from Nothing Is Strange for free here, and Flock, a story from Strange Medicine for free here!

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5 Books Set on Mars

Want to escape? Here are five books set on Mars. Bon voyage!

    1. Across the Zodiac: The Story of a Wrecked Record by Percy Greg – The book is notable as containing what is probably the first alien language in any work of fiction to be described with linguistic and grammatical terminology. It also contains what is possibly the first instance in the English language of the word “Astronaut”, which features as the name of the narrator’s spacecraft. In 2010 a crater on Mars was named Greg in recognition of his contribution to the lore of Mars. Public Domain Review. You can also read the full book for free by following that link. 25683464
    2. Doctor Omega by Arnould Galopin – In a quiet Normandy village, amateur violinist Denis Borel meets a mysterious white-haired scientist known only as Doctor Omega, who is building an amazing spacecraft, the Cosmos. Doctor Omega invites Borel to accompany him on his maiden voyage – to Mars! Goodreads

3. To Mars via the Moon by Mark Wicks – Available in paperback and for Kindle here.

4. A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs – Available in paperback and for Kindle hereOn this new world, Carter has great strength and nearly superhuman agility, which make him a valued member of the Tharks, a nomadic tribe of Green Martians. But when the Tharks capture Dejah Thoris, the Princess of Helium, and a member of the humanoid red Martians, Carter begins to question his role on Mars. He is determined to return Dejah Thoris to her people, but in time it becomes clear that Carter must lead a horde of Tharks. With Carter’s loyalty tested to its limit, this victory or defeat will determine the fate of Dejah Thoris as well as the whole of Mars itself. – blurb

5. Out of the Silent Planet by C. S. Lewis – Available in paperback, hardback, audio and for Kindle hereThe first book in C. S. Lewis’s acclaimed Space Trilogy, which continues with Perelandra and That Hideous Strength, Out of the Silent Planet begins the adventures of the remarkable Dr. Ransom. Here, that estimable man is abducted by a megalomaniacal physicist and his accomplice and taken via spaceship to the red planet of Malacandra. The two men are in need of a human sacrifice, and Dr. Ransom would seem to fit the bill. Once on the planet, however, Ransom eludes his captors, risking his life and his chances of returning to Earth, becoming a stranger in a land that is enchanting in its difference from Earth and instructive in its similarity. First published in 1943, Out of the Silent Planet remains a mysterious and suspenseful tour de force. – blurb