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An update from the twenty-eighth Writing Workshop with Conner Bassett

A summary of the workshop held on Saturday February 19th, plus some of the output published below

"We are still living under the reign of logic... but dreaming is not inferior to reality as real human experience." -André Breton

For this week's workshop, Conner had us "let go of our logical brains" and imitate surrealists of the 20th century by writing "automatically." According to the rules of automatic writing, one should write for a period of time without a plan, purpose, or end point in mind, one should write as rapidly as possible without intervening consciously to guide the writing, and one should avoid conscious thought. In order to get in the proper frame of mind to write in this manner, we looked at various paintings by surrealist artists like Salvador Dalí and action artists like Jackson Pollock, Franz Kline, and Willem de Kooning, and read the automatic writing of pioneers like André Breton, Benjamin Peret, and Phillipe Soupault, including some excerpts of Breton and Soupault's Les Champs magnétiques. Before we began our prompt, we were also supplied with the following word bank, for optional use:













The Challenge: Write automatically for 20 minutes, then spend ten minutes arranging your piece.

The Participants: Emma, Sophia, Nova, Amelia, Ananya, Alice, Josh, Zar, Samantha, Ellie, Chelsea, Quinn, Penelope

To watch the rest of the readings from this workshop, like Emma's below, click here

Emma Hoff, 9
(Bronx, NY)

I Tell Bad Jokes

Emma Hoff, 9

Watermelon, cantaloupe, manatee, old shawl, disappearing objects, gone now. Jokes on the water at school, screen on fire, full fire, keep going and run or ride yourself forward make it bad but good and everything looks like the letter F. Everything’s crooked but perfect just kidding it’s all sad and makes people collapse but who cares anyway? Fruit in a bowl, toss the cookies out of the “cookie jar.” I don't use a cookie jar, fruit in a jar. Everybody, come and join the feast! The table is wide and spread for you, but you do not come. I will eat your favorite watermelon by myself I guess, and the meat will rot, because all the company I have are ghosts that plucked their feathers out on Ebay. I guess I had too many stressed birds for pets. Daisies unfold but was I talking about tulips? Why looks like a letter, feels like something else new, can it be new? Nose, head, I can’t draw. Is this all good, am I bad, am I ranting? I take piano lessons and everything eventually breaks and I will eventually grow up and be scared and responsible and do things, and then I will eventually die, so what’s the point of learning? This moment? Okay, I’ll keep this moment but I know they won’t inscribe it on my grave because it’s too long to explain and too much beauty is too beautiful for eyes to see, my own eyes are on fire. My finger is in a pencil sharpener because I couldn’t find a pencil and I didn’t want to write with a marker. Maybe I should write with a crayon or mow lawns with a glue stick? I should plan a vacation so I can become tiny, because then the light switch will be easier to use and I’ll be able to climb everything and actually be a mountaineer and I’ll get squished and know what it feels like to be an accordion, but I can’t play an accordion, so my hypothesis is that it won’t be like in the cartoons and I won’t make music. Hypothesis is a long word and an accordion is also long but I like the word hypothesis and I like accordions, sort of, though I don’t play them. If you jump on an accordion I bet you would spring right back up because that’s what an accordion is like, and if you don’t clean out the basement right now, I will get super mad and possibly kill you, but the correct thing to say would be angry, because mad would mean you’re crazy, but I’m mad with anger at grammar, but I like grammar anyway, but I also like the word mad. Mad, mad, mad, say it louder! Turtles crawl slowly but the one my cousin made out of a paper plate is completely still. I think my cousin made it. Maybe I crafted it in my sleep? Ha ha, good one, good joke, why is no one else laughing? I don’t think I should go onstage and be a comedian because all my jokes suck and I’ll be the only one dying of laughter and everyone will storm out because they think I’m annoying. Pinwheels and flowers are similar, except one is plastic and one is paper, because I see a flower right now, and it’s paper. Why are you smiling? Why aren’t you smiling? Why is your mouth so tight and grim? It’s all wrong and so is the writing, so why do I keep painting? I draw people wearing crowns, but then I put Xs through the crowns and I laugh and I give them red hair because I like red hair. I like carrots, too, but the bunnies will eat all my carrots before I can and I don’t really like carrots. Are you sure you don’t want to eat with me? It’s nighttime, I should go to bed. I don’t want to sleep and I need to get this olive out of the jar and unstick my cat from the cannon and get the stain from the juice of the orange off the couch, the table, my clothes, and my chin. Okay, but really, there’s nothing to see, except orange and red! I see pink, blue, and so many different shades of green, too, but don’t tell. It all makes me roll my eyes and I see rainbow and I jump because I saw indigo and violet and yellow. It’s all so pretty, but all I see are clear skies, not blue skies. And it all acts like candy running at me and poking me. I say, why are you poking me? They tell me they don’t mean to. Why not? And when I draw people the lips are fat and the eyes are wide, wide, wider, staring into the abyss. Pencil shavings are spilling all over the place, good bye and get away.


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