Issue 37, Surrealist Poetry


“Keep reminding yourself that literature is one of the saddest roads that leads to everything,” wrote André Breton in 1924. Surrealism as a concept – together with Breton’s Manifesto of Surrealism, art movements, and creative writing – had a tremendous influence on the beginnings of Shuddhashar in 1990. Both local conditions in Bangladesh and global politics seemed to resonate with André Breton’s Manifesto of Surrealism. Contradictions appeared everywhere. Bangladesh had moved from a long period of military rule to the possibility of democracy, yet it was clear that a culture of democratic values was still lacking. Under the umbrella of politics, some people wielded power for self-interest and greed. Political feudalism was widespread, and the life of common people was difficult and precarious. Significant global changes were also taking place. The Cold War ended with the fall of the Soviet superpower, and the world came under the control of imperialism. Islamist fundamentalism was active in Afghanistan, and an Iran-centric fundamentalism spread. Globally, although the free market and capitalism improved access to wealth and property for some people, others faced greater uncertainty and hardship. It seemed as if humans were forced to turn into machines to survive, and superpowers profited immensely from this inhuman arrangement. Surrealism’s insight into this complex, contradictory world and the creative possibilities the movement offered were an impetus for the establishment of Shuddhashar FreeVoice as a platform for writing and thinking.

Not only did surrealism challenge us to see, understand, and contemplate the world beyond a specific time frame and place, it also challenged traditional forms of writing. Particularly intriguing was André Breton’s concept of “psychic automatism:” an unfiltered expression of the human mind and imagination without the interference of traditional reasoning, logic, or conscious control. Surrealism, as we understood it, promotes profound freedom of expression. This expression is free from restrictive taboos and norms, which too often prevent us from imagining an alternative, more just, and sustainable world. This realization of surrealism’s potential for creating, expressing, and critiquing the world and our human condition was – and continues to be – exciting.

Although our interest in surrealism was sparked early on, this is the first time Shuddhashar FreeVoice has devoted an entire issue to it. This is primarily a poetry issue and includes some reflections on surrealism by the poets as well as analytical articles. The articles and poetry published here mostly represent western perspectives. We look forward to planning a follow-up issue centered on the Global South, with excellent surrealist writers from other areas of the world, including some writers whose work was published in Shuddhashar FreeVoice’s earlier poetry issues.

David Spittle, the acclaimed Surrealist British poet and filmmaker and a close friend of Shuddhashar, is the guest editor of this exciting collection. Because of his leadership in the field and in shaping this issue, we expect this collection will be a useful resource for readers and researchers interested in Surrealism. Our tremendous appreciation goes to David for his remarkable work, including writing and editing, and his dedication to seeing this project to completion. Bangladeshi artist Touhin Hasan has created all the artwork for this issue. Sincere thanks and appreciation from Team Shuddhashar for Touhin, whose art always inspires and intrigues.

Poetry is not only a refuge for thought; it is also a means of turning thought into theory. We hope this collection challenges you to look at the world in a different way and to think new thoughts. In 1937, Breton wrote, “All my life, my heart has yearned for a thing I cannot name.” Maybe we don’t need to name it. We just need to imagine it.

Good to Think With: My Surrealism

  Three Collages         from Sun  Deck  Set  Cogitation: Promenade 3 Scientists word whether qualifying dawn according adjective fusion since referring clear theoretical morning regret betrays speculation this interest oscillates indivisible aspect is solar incidence zone may well be rays sunlight misses thought returns remarkable this different prelude close phenomenon operas from …

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Let fly the unquiet tongue

  The Unquiets   Let fly the unquiet tongue on the tip of their wagging wisecracks champing at the raw bit of metal fisted in mouth. Between the teeth a harrying of buds over worried words slew. Slewed with lewd and metaphysical. Startled points of view rarely reach beyond huff of fetid breath. Over wondering. …

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Monday in the Mariana Trench

AASE BERG POETRY (translated by Johannes Göransson)   Eliminate The pale intestine releases a bubble There is a fish eye in the bubble Nothing hurts Remember nothing there is nothing   Tillintet Bleka tarmen släpper upp en bubbla Det är ett fisköga i bubblan Ingenting gör ont Minns ingenting, finns ingenting   Fatigue 150 meters …

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through and through and through and through

  Hysterical a dormouse sedan is only psycho bitch horse it is sedatives all the way down ultrasound hysterical calls hair gel cavolo nero kale the color of my mood pterodactyl day is surgery yesterday through and through and through and through orange popsicles so says psycho itch is sweet also scurrilous if wishes were …

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The Airborne Gooseberry Boy

  “The shadows in the corners have been shifting. It is now too late to … yell at them to stop what they are doing.”                                                                                                  – Joseph Brodsky    My grandmother filled the wall with bread sauce. We were always thirsty. With my cousin who was not my cousin, we picked gooseberries in the …

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