Dada, or Dadaism, was an anti-art movement initiated by artists back in 1916. If that sounds counter intuitive, good, it’s supposed to. It was a reaction to the carnage of World War I – a rejection of the dogma that lead vast numbers of young men to their deaths in the hellish trenches that scarred Europe’s landscape. It was also a slap in the face to the elitists who controlled the art community – smelling salts intended to wake them from their complacent catnap. The Dada artists took the idiocy and brashness that had contaminated the world and used them to express their own outrage. Bizarre sculptures, gibberish poetry, and noise symphonies were some of the forms they employed to provoke people into assessing their own moral values.
The state of global politics today is terrifying to me. Sometimes my tendency is to insulate myself with layers and layers of apathy. Of course, that is the absolute worst thing we can do as informed citizens of the world. To remind myself (and others) that it’s not O.K. to bury my head in the sand, I have made my own Dada poem according to the instructions of one of Dada’s pioneers – Tristan Tzara. It’s simple really: Take a newspaper article, cut out each word, and place the individual words in a bag. Shake vigorously. Reach into the bag and blindly pick out a word. Write that word down. Continue the process until there are no more words left in the bag. There’s your poem.
I printed out an article from apnews dot com. It was titled, “UN Condemns North Korea’s ‘Highly Provocative’ Missile Test.” I didn’t have the time or patience to cut out every single word, so I only used words from the first three paragraphs. I also limited the poem to 50 words. Even though this was an abridged effort, I still think the point came across splendidly. The poem is the degeneration of a highly ordered state into one of disorder. I read it out loud, and it sounds absolutely horrible. The author’s original intent is lost entirely, and there was no cadence, besides the cadence I might use when reading through a grocery list. Let this be a lesson: If the citizens of the world allow their governments to lead them down a destructive path, society will devolve into chaos, and poetry will utterly suck. If I had to title this monstrosity, I would call it, Entropy Scissors.
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Be good citizens, be good people, and keep writing.