Despite unpleasant weather, all of the seats at Weller Books were filled for the discussion of Lost Profiles: Memoirs of Cubism, Dada, and Surrealism, recently translated from Philippe Soupault’s original French by Alan Bernheimer. The book consists of brief anecdotes about notable participants in the Cubist, Dadaist, and Surrealist movements, including Andre Breton, Louis Aragon, Tristain Tzara, and many others. Surprisingly, Philippe Soupault also includes tales from his friendships with Marcel Proust and James Joyce. It is charming.
While these movements encompassed all forms of expression, including art and prose, poetry was especially suited to advancing their ideas. The individuals in these stories changed the world of poetry. Theirs represented a dramatic departure from the rules, forms, and styles the literary world imposed on itself. They captured the public’s attention and promoted their movement primarily through scandal, though today those scandals seem quaintly absurd and rather tame. Tristain Tzara outraged his audiences by ‘writing’ a poem on the spot by pulling random words from scraps of paper. Philippe Soupault states that they were bombarded with produce. The group published Les Champs Magnetiques, which consisted of pages and pages of automatic writing, unedited. We can trace the freedom to compose our poems in the way we chose, not just stylistically but thematically, to these brave rebels.
Alan Bernheimer explained how he came to translate Lost Profiles after researching a comment made by Philippe Soupault about Rousseau. And, he read to the audience the chapter on Rene Crevel. He was followed by a lively, Dada inspired poetry performance by Alex Caldeiro.
For more upcoming poetry events in Utah County and surrounding areas, check our Poetry Events page.