Poetry Prompt: Irrational Juxtaposition


This post is part of a series of weekly found poetry prompts. If you have an idea for a found poetry source, email Senior Poetry Editor Beth Ayer. Image above: “Grand Hotel Semiramis” by Joseph Cornell, posted here in accordance with fair use principles.

Cornell believed that artists renew and transform materials, experiences, and ideas, and this belief fueled his ability to communicate the beauty and magic in ordinary, often forgotten things.

—Lynda Roscoe Hartigan

Our prompt this week is inspired by the works of the artist Joseph Cornell, and more specifically his boxed assemblages. Cornell created three dimensional collage within simple shadow boxes, arranging “eclectic fragments of photographs or Victorian bric a brac, in a way that combines the formal austerity of Constructivism with the lively fantasy of Surrealism” (Web Museum). More on his work here and here and here.

Lynda Roscoe Hartigan of the Peabody Essex Museum says “his goal as an artist was to inspire others to pursue uplifting voyages into the imagination…[he saw] the imagination as an echo chamber where possibilities and connections can be discovered through subtle repetition and variation.”

Cornell “was fascinated not by refuse, garbage, and the discarded, but by fragments of once beautiful and precious objects, relying on the Surrealist technique of irrational juxtaposition and on the evocation of nostalgia…”

Prompt: Finding inspiration in Cornell’s boxes, create the poetry equivalent by collecting “precious fragments” and composing them in irrational juxtaposition.  Browse the many photos of his work online, then seek the text sources that will make up your literary equivalent.

As always, please share what you make.


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