1920s Salon

As the spring semester comes to a close, English majors and English faculty have been involved with a number of campus events. As part of Arts Night leading into Symposium Day, students in ENG 370 The Splendid Drunken Twenties hosted a 1920s-style salon, complete with students dressing in 1920s style, games invented during the surrealism movement of the 1920s, games inspired by surrealism (such as the Haiku Chef), readings of 1920s poetry (in English and French), and 1920s music.

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“Flappers” and surrealist games

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A little ragtime. . . .

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The Haiku Chef assembled freshly prepared Haiku for Salon guests, who were asked to write out a line of haiku (5 syllables or 7 syllables). The Haiku Chef would complete the poem by drawing pre-made 5 or 7 syllable lines from out of her pots, assembling the 3 lines in whatever way made the most (or least) sense, and then reading the completed haiku aloud. After the poem was read, the Haiku Chef’s assistant (the sous-ku chef) added the finished poem to the growing body of freshly prepared haiku posted on the wall.

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More surrealist games. . . .

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. . . . including Exquisite Corpse, a surrealist game that involves several people collaborating to write a paragraph (each person writing a sentence without knowing what the others have written).

The Salon ended with a “choral” reading of Gertrude Stein’s 1926 poem “A Wife Has a Cow: A Love Story”

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With readers upstairs and downstairs, arranged in a partial circle around the open space of the gallery, Steinian sentences such as “Has to be as a wife has a cow a love story. Has made as to be as a wife has a cow a love story” were tossed back and forth and echoed through the Emery Community Arts Center.

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The Splendid Drunken Twenties, Spring 2013.

Appendix I: Exquisite Corpse Paragraphs

I was completely naked, except for a peacock-feather boa (of false feathers), wrapped around my head. A blinking light is shining that prevents sights of others, makes me shudder. Suddenly she saw a light switch in an inappropriate location on the wall. She picked up a few bags of puffin stew at the laundromat and then it was done.

How was I to know she would be carrying an exploding magic ball? Did you have any idea what she was holding? What the hell is that boat? Try the soup before it’s too late, said the cat to the fiddle as he flew to the moon. The squid is laughing uncontrollably about the mistakes of the other people. Their failures created something wondrous, a hideously beautiful creature.

The stranger seemed equally interested in Miss Leslie’s gigantic new novel. Within the book was a hidden compartment, containing a Portal Gun. A wall appeared out of nowhere. I ran toward the Captain Crunch cereal. And I yelled, “Why!!!?” Captain Picard dragged the body across the room, out of breath, with my sensuous banana.


Appendix II: Freshly Prepared Haiku


Dark, water-mouthed dreams:

dusty fragments of old bones,

cats meow patience.


Frosting, so creamy,

cats swimming in cups of gin

–cupcakes of salmon.


She reads, she reads, she–

a box of angry ocean,

soy sauce and kindness.


Cherry blossoms dance

–I like to paint my long nails–

the horses waltz.


Such loud pigeons,

eaten by rabid lobsters.

Vodka, no tonic.


Eggplants, cucumbers,

one sweetly curling goatee,

a morning glory.


An ill-manner cat

with a tongue of rubbed amber

hates Justin Bieber.


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