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My Art belongs to Dada

Dada is mad and dangerous to know but not bad. Just jump straight in. Dada is randomness in writing and strange rules. These are some Dada exercises we tried.


The task was to choose a colour and write about it, but the name of the colour has to be included in every line.


She can be cool, ice-blue cool,
in her blue jeans
she dances to the rhythm of the blues
nothing but blue skies from now on.
But she's blue, got the blues
in a blue fit,
a blue funk
she's off in some wide blue yonder
unreal in a blue, blue heaven,
she's ripped the blue jeans
and the blue gown,
lost in the blue.

Dorothy Long


I'm green gush-guts
as green as grinning
in a green-toothed camel.
I'm glow green, greedy green,
sweet celery-crunchy green,
the gangrene in a green-stick fracture.

I'm spewing out green,
drowning in dappled green,
green as dragon breath,
as poison-green as a tree frog
or the apple in the green witch-basket.
Sitting on a death-green yew
in a grey-green churchyard.

I'm abracadabra cabinet green,
glowing in green runes,
phosphorescent green of mossy gutters,
a green gargoyle
watching green-faced from above.
So green-eyed from mildewed mirrors,
so green-haired from sap rising.
Such green fingers from gardening.

I'm as green as I'm cabbage looking.
lime-leaf green,
Green as a bottle in a stagnant pool.
As a green crème de menthe or a monster's drool.

My future is green.

Diane Cockburn


Dawn brings red-faced recollection and hot self-reproach at defences lowered.
Remorsefully remembering regrettable utterings that evening before when....

Red had been Burgundy, bursting with berries and burgeoning buds,
buoying the senses and battering the brain, and then....

Red became Claret, classically rich, chock-full of chocolate, coconut and coal,
caressing the tonsils and canoodling with the soul, until....

Ruby red Rioja ransacked the tastebuds, redolent with rhubarb and Ribena aftertaste,
running riot in Reeboks across every nerve ending, until eventually....

Red washed the palate with Valpolicella, virulent with vanilla and vines of Castilla,
vibrantly, vivaciously invading the veins!! Now, however....

Bloodshot red eyes, sandpaper-wrapped, close with shame and exhaustion,
resolving never, ever, ever............again?

Lindsay Balderson


This page, unscripted, blue as a cloudless sky
will not deliver its secrets until gentled by a pencil.

This page blue with depth of intent
a mystery of particles interdependent.

This blue page waiting for thoughts to be scribed
with clear and incisive ideas to delight.

This page gradually greyed over blue
these pencil marks its fearfulness subdue.

This blue page, I have covered you
with mindless words to tame you.

Anne Hine



Translating from an unknown language by guesswork only.


Ghax jien kont diga' tifel seklu ilu
w ghaddejt mill-moghdejiet fejn rigli hafi
ghallimni l-forom strambi ta' kull gebla
u dahhal go subghajja l-ghabra antika.
Fejn kont biex dak in-nhar li terraqt jiena
ma rfistx int mieghi hafja fuq il-gebel
u fuq it-trab li llum ghadu jaghrafni?
Fejn kont meta daqqejt in-noti mkarkra
u ktibt imnebbah biex nghannih quddiemek
l-innu superstizzjuz ta' l-ezistenza?

Kont tifel seklu ilu nhares wahdi
lejn l-ucuh godda, u lkoll hallewni nhazzez,
bil-fahma hoxna li sewditli idi,
is-snug u c-crieki tieghi fuq haddejhom
biex malli tasal inti tifhem kollox.
Fejn kont meta hazzizt bil-fahma hoxna
u ridtek hdejja biex inpingi wiccek,
warda li bdiet tihmar minn seklu ilu?

Oliver Friggieri


I could bless this treasure of great worth, this secluded island
which very properly wishes to keep the given rules
right from the edge of the square as far as the War Memorial
and then in under the deep shade of the ancient market.
I wish I could stand there on its yellow earth again,
but who would take the risk that it was safe
and not a trap laid for them by very fierce hunters?
I wish I could arm myself with innocence against bandits -
and twice now I've kept my nose out of serious trouble,
or is it superstition that's kept me alive?

I could bless this secluded island by the pillar that marks
where the local gods live, and in that holy place
they wash their feet for their appointed feasts:
how close and crackling-tight they're jammed
twice as many as can comfortably collect in the room.
I wish I could wash my feet there with the saints -
and would it be ridiculous to go on pilgrimage again next week
for the sake of keeping my secluded island safe?

After (a long way after) the Maltese of Oliver Friggieri

Joanna Boulter


So easily you know me, find me sickly, ill
with worry, the gadgets you have left me milling
mockingly around, a forum for argument, for
gabbling strife. You always dare go down that old route.

Fain I would know are you here in armour
to grab me, interrogate me, pin me to the wall
and break my arm, or are you willing to trade
darkness with light, salvation with degradation?

Fain would I know if you would meet me in the market-place,
daggers at dawn, or keep that myth alive
that we are one, we, in our hearts, keep
the superstition of a star-poem?

You know so well (nowhere so well as here)
how you would challenge my goddess, taunt
so hauntingly and cruelly, even to music,
all the famous hoaxes and cons, all the
sordid ideas, done-to-death, as if connecting
or screaming from the heart!

A visual and linguistic response to a Maltese poem by Oliver Friggieri

Vicki Thomas


Eu quero a estrêla da manhã
Onde está estrêla da manhã?
Meus amigos meus inimigos
Procurem a estrêla da manhã

Ela desapareceu ia nua
Desapareceu com quem?
Procurem por tôda parte

Digam que sou um homem sem orgulho
Um homem que aceita tudo
Que me importa?
Eu quero a estrêla da manhã

Três dias e três noites
Fui assassino e suicida
Ladrão, pulha, falsário

Virgem mal-sexuada
Atribuladora dos aflitos
Girafa de duas cabeças
Pecai por todos pecai com todos

Pecai com os malandros
Pecai com os sargentos
Pecai com os fuzileiros navais
Pecai de tôdas as maneiras
Com os gregos e com os troianos
Com o padre e com o sacristão
Com o leproso de Pouso Alto

Depois comigo

Te esperarei com mafuás novenas cavalhadas
comerei terra e direi coisas de uma
ternura tão simples
Que tu desfalecerás

Procurem por tôda parte
Pura ou degradada até a última baixeza
Eu quero a estrêla da manhã.

From the Brazilian Portuguese of Manuel Bandeira


I want the morning star
Where did she go?
My friends, my enemies
Look for the morning star

Stark naked she has disappeared
With whom did she go away?
Look for her everywhere

Tell her that I am a man without pride
A man who accepts anything
What do I care
I want the morning star

Three days and three nights
I was a murderer, a suicide
Thief, scoundrel, forger

Ill-sexed virgin
Distresser of the afflicted
Two-headed giraffe
Sin for all sin with all

Sin with the con men
Sin with the sergeants
Sin with the marines
Sin in every way
With Greeks and with Trojans
With the priest and the sacristan
With the leper from Pouso Alto

Then with me

I shall be waiting for you with carnivals, novenas
old-time jousts
I shall eat dirt and shall say things of such a
simple tenderness
That you'll swoon
Look for her everywhere
Pure or debased to the lowest ignominy
I want the morning star

Translated by A.B.M.Cadaxa


I might as well ask for a man from the stars
Where's there a star who's a man?
My friend my inimitable boy
Procure me a star of a man

Alas she is in despair but have you never
Been in despair like this?
Procure for my spirits a part of him

I don't give a sous for um a man who handles his love organ
But ah a man who attends to her pudenda
Do you get my meaning?
I really am asking for an extra-terrestrial man

Three days and three nights
Since I was assassinated by him and suicidal
Jack the Lad, puller, betrayer

A woman so unlucky in love
I bring down on him twin afflictions
Stretch his knackers like giraffe-necks
I have sinned for a drink I have sinned with drunks

I've peccadilloed with bad lads
I've tinkered with sergeants
Fossicked with fusiliers, navvies
I've copped off on the job with manual workers
With Greeks and with Trojans
With the priest and with the choirboy
With the leper from Chicken Alley

I have mixed them all up like peas

My hope for you with your broadsword my newest cavalier
circle the earth and direct the chosen one to my womb
a consummation devoutly simple
That you will commit to my crusade

Procure him for my soul even a particle
An innocent undefiled, edible, the ultimate sixpack
So hard
I am longing
for a man
who is out of this world

A version after "Estrêla Da Manhã" by Manuel Bandeira

Annie Wright


New work written in response to the LAST words on each line of a famous poem.

XXXI   Durham Bus Station

Friday night uncages here, a waste land
of untithed charity shops, coal-fouled stone,
gum-pebbled streets dumped on like once gold sand
under 14 ft of tipped slag, a frown
on the coastline under a chain of command
of unending buckets past signs unread
of pollution & global warming, things
masters and miners left to fish, fed
more like a fire, with damp slack, to appear
banked, and when it was all axed like a king's
head, sea, fish, sand, delivered from despair,
the blight bled from mines to towns, decay
all that's left of industry, the once bare
Bus-stands a sea scum of fags unswept away.

Last words from each line of Shelley's Ozymandias

S.J. Litherland


I decided to wipe out my lover
the day he stood by the oven
humming and twiddling the knobs
of the old radio near the stove
I thought, you're much too small
minded, a saltspoon among spoons

I'd let him get under my skin
so he used me like a dishcloth
each day another frown, another crease
showed on my face - this is no life
Today will be his end, and it will be sticky
I will mop up his blood thinking only of me

Last words taken from Grease by Grace Nichols

Wendy Iliff


Why is it at fifty you humiliate and FORSAKE HER
To go playing the field acre by ACRE
The net result - Swollen fees for the divorce MAKER.

She's created your home entertained business GUESTS IN
Provided a haven from labours for you to REST IN
Borne your children, reared, given them a place to NEST IN.

How could you forget the arms stretched to FOLD YOU
The love and commitment all meant to HOLD YOU
Lost in a night to a floozy who ROLLED YOU.

Your waist, also, has started to THICKEN
Your breathlessness, too has started to QUICKEN
Soon your health and your wits will inevitably SICKEN.

The jealousy roused creates thoughts of SLAUGHTERS
All respect and your promises thrown to the WATERS
Despair in seeing you cavorting in alien QUARTERS.

No more joy at your own Christmas TABLES
Gone the dogs in the house, horses once in the STABLES
Money spent, whilst SHE'S internetting on CABLES.

All this betrayal has been hard to SWALLOW
Left your wife with no life, meaningless, HOLLOW
With a wish that if free, your style she could FOLLOW.

May you be dammed that you have chosen to FORSAKE HER
Left your children, your house and HOME-ACRE
Curses on you, may you fall under the grey WIDOW-maker

May you meet on the morrow the grey WIDOW-MAKER

Last words from each line of Kipling's Harp Song of the Dane Women

Irene Stacey


It wasn't the weather that made me miss your funeral today.
The weather for October is temperate.
It wasn't that I didn't love you Auntie May,
it's just that I had a bit of trouble with the date.

Thinking of you, my happy childhood shines
bright, safe, strong, secure, undimmed
like you, so when physically you declined,
your wick and spirit stayed untrimmed.

As 50s photographs and memories fade,
I'm sure I won't forget what most I owest;
You furnished me with clothes of every shade
from Marks and Spencer rejects, as I growest.

We didn't have much money. So you see,
I might have remained naked, save for thee.

Written using the end words (slightly adapted) of William Shakespeare's sonnet. This is for Emma May Blanche Turner (known to her family as 'Tina') - always known as 'Auntie May' to me. She was married to my Uncle Fred (Crowhurst). They were Salvation Army Officers. As part of that work, she received reject clothes from Marks and Spencer to distribute to 'the deserving poor'. As a Salvation Army Officer's child, I came into this category. Thanks Auntie. Salvationists don't die, they are promoted to glory. Auntie May was promoted to glory on the 29th of September 1999.

Marilyn Longstaff


Skyscraped, office blocked, traffic choked city;
In house, free house, lager flavoured breath,
Double lined, meter fed roads up country;
Snorted, spliffed, injected with death.

Shot up, punched up, on a hard shoulder,
Good crack, bad crack mixed up with chalk;
Bed down, chill out, no sleep is murder
Look out, come round - talk.

Speed sirens panic frantic fever,
monitored heart, around you came.
Re-hab a third time. Is this now over
'cos I've had enough of you calling my name?

Give it up this time and I will soften.
I love you she whispered caressing his brow;
If you don't do it - will I see you in heaven?
The traffic choked city is beginning to flow.

Last words from each line of Dylan Thomas' The Hand that Signed the Paper

Pat Maycroft


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Last updated on 18 July 2006.