Thursday, October 27, 2016

"Lost Profiles: Memoirs of Cubism, DADA, and Surrealism" by Philippe Soupault, Translated by Alan Bernheimer (City Lights Books)

ISBN: 978-0-87286-727-7 City Lights Books

"Lost Profiles: Memoirs of Cubism, DADA, & Surrealism" by Philippe Soupault; translated by Alan Bernheimer

Philippe Soupault is one of my favorite writers. A member of the Surrealist world, with a touch of DADA, is a remarkable poet, as well as a prose artist. I also read his remarkable memoir of his years in the French Residence, called "Age of the Assassins" (which needs to be re-printed - NYRB please do so). "Lost Profiles" is a series of Soupault's remembrances of various friends, who happened to be iconic writers such as Apollinaire, René Crevel (underrated poet), Proust, Joyce, Georges Bernanos, Reverdy, Cendrars, and a critical essay on Baudelaire's poetry, plus an appreciation on the artist Henri Rousseau. A short and very sweet, but thoughtful book on the nature of these writers, and what makes them great. The fact that Soupault had a long life, and actually knew Apollinaire and Proust is mind boggling incredible. I'm almost star-struck just by reading this book. Beautifully translated by the poet Alan Bernheimer, with an introduction by Mark Polizzotti and an afterword by Ron Padgett, this is basically a must- read for those who have an interest in the European avant-garde of the early 20th century.

Philippe Soupault, photographed by Man Ray

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Tosh Berman banned from Facebook (Again)

Once again, I have been temporary banned from Facebook for reasons that are beyond me.  For those who read my blog, knows this is totally laughable and false.  Yet, we will see what will happen.  To quote Facebook below:

"We restrict the display of nudity. Some descriptions of sexual acts may also be removed. These restrictions on the display of both nudity and sexual activity also apply to digitally created content unless the content is posted for educational, humorous or satirical purposes.
We remove content that threatens or promotes sexual violence or exploitation. This includes solicitation of sexual material, any sexual content involving minors, threats to share intimate images and offers of sexual services. Where appropriate, we refer this content to law enforcement.
To learn more about the kinds of messages and posts that are allowed on Facebook, please review the Facebook Community Standards.

You’re Temporarily Blocked From Posting
This temporary block will last 3 days, and you won’t be able to post on Facebook until it’s finished.

Please keep in mind that people who repeatedly post things that aren’t allowed on Facebook may have their accounts permanently disabled.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

"The Thief of Talent by Pierre Reverdy & Translated by Ian Seed (Wakefield Press)

"The Thief of Talent" by Pierre Reverdy & Translated by Ian Seed (Wakefield Press) 978-1-939663-19-1

When I first heard about this book "The Thief of Talent" by Pierre Reverdy, I was expecting an experimental novel.   It's not.  It's a book length prose poem that is incredibly moving and beautiful.   The book came out in France in 1917, and was pretty much ignored till at least 1967.  In 2016, Wakefield Press has done the first english translation by Ian Seed.  It's a remarkable book about an artist/poet leaving their scene.  A long goodbye note of sorts, but also a very poetic look of a world that passes him by - which happens to be Paris, 1917.  

Reverdy, is without a doubt, one of the great poetic voices of the 20th century.  This early work by him, exposes a certain amount of doubt in working in a world that is often hostile, or at the very least, suspicious of such activity.   The great fellow poet/art critic Max Jacob encouraged Reverdy to write this book, but at the same time, one gather by this text that their relationship had sharp turns to the left and right, when it wanted to go straight ahead.  According to Seed's introduction, the big turning point for Reverdy in writing this book was when Jacob hid his writings from Reverdy by closing a chest door in front of him.  This very act, caused a certain amount of stress for Reverdy, even though it was common practice for artists and writers of that time, to hide their work from fellow artists, due to the fear of being plagiarized. 

Maybe because it is due that Dylan just won the Nobel Prize for literature, but I couldn't help thinking about his work, while reading this book.  Dylan is known for 'borrowing' text for his songs/writings, and one wonder if he knew Reverdy's work. I suspect he does.   This, almost reads like a Dylan book written in the future.   Like Dylan, Reverdy is very cinematic with his writing.  One gets clear visuals while reading the text.  He knows how to paint a picture in one's head.  For me, I can't think of a 'new' book that is so important.  The loss of identity or to question such a thing, is very much part of 20th century literature.  And I have to admit it is very much part of my work as well.  "The Thief of Talent" is for all those who create something, and the need to say au revoir.  

Thursday, October 13, 2016