The Legacies and Practices of Surrealism in Contemporary American Poetry: A Lecture by Dr. Cassandra Cleghorn

Library Meeting Room aka Pillow Room

Open to the public

/ Wednesday


Since the moment of its flowering in Europe, surrealism has had an odd and at times contentious relation to poetry in the U.S. Wallace Stevens famously accused surrealism of frivolity: "To make a clam play an accordion is to invent, not to discover." André Breton distinguished between the marvelous and the (merely) fantastical. Where in contemporary U.S. poetry do we find evidence of inventive and marvelous surrealism? What is the relation between the surreal and the elliptical? How can we use such models in our own practice of poetry? The focus of this session will be the making of readings and new work: we will analyze and appreciate select contemporary U.S. "surrealist" poems, and we will generate new writing of our own.

Educated at UC Santa Cruz in Classics and at Yale in American Studies (PhD, 1995), Dr. Cassandra Cleghorn is Senior Lecturer in English and Chair of American Studies at Williams College, where she has taught for over 25 years. She has served as Poetry Editor of Tupelo Press since 2007. Her book of poetry, Four Weathercocks, was published in 2016 by Marick Press. Her poems and reviews have appeared or will appear in journals including Colorado Review, Boston Review, Paris Review, Yale Review, New Orleans Review, Poetry International, Field, Tin House, Iowa Review, Chicago Review, and She regularly reviews poetry for Publishers Weekly. More information may be found on her website.