Stereotypes, whether true or false, would like to have us believe that poets, perhaps above all others, record their dreams for beauty, self-indulgence, or posterity. However, the poets interested in the dream and the logic of the subconscious today, are perhaps not the same poets that inherited the logic of the avant-garde. The surrealists were, certainly, heavily invested in the dream state, but the topic has not stood out as a particular interest since then. Yet, poets and artists like to think about them, and even lie about (complicate) what they claim to remember from them.
Jacket2 recently advertised the segmented recording of Bill Berkson’s poems, from Serenade, on PennSound. Berkson read a poem about his favorite dream. And it so happens that this favorite dream features none other than our inescapable Marcel Duchamp. The poem, called Duchamp Dream, reads:
“Marcel Duchamp and I are collaborating on a giant wall painting. Duchamp’s part in this work consists of a talking portrait of himself – a profile which appears at the center of a brightly colored rectangle on the white wall. Using a long stick to push the colors around, I demonstrate the niceties of the composition to a large audience standing in a semicircle. ‘You see,’ I say, ‘we (Duchamp and I) are much the same – but mostly at the edges!’ Now the righthand edge of the rectangle explodes in a flashing white light which then ‘bleeds’ into a field of dazzling pellucid orange. The room during this phase of the work has been almost totally in the dark – the only light source being the painting itself – its colors illumined from the inside. Now the room lights up and I am painting the four walls, running back and forth like crazy with my stick. In one corner I draw a huge black gorilla figure and pivoting to face the next long wall, I trace a black line punctuated with a thick gob of paint which sticks out like a fist. I pause, sensing this work is ‘a great success.’”
For more dreams from poets, check out the Annandale Dream Gazette.