Dada poetry was a movement in the arts during the early 20th century that valued intuition, spontaneity, and irrationality. Many people consider it to be one of the first art movements of this type. The dada poets were trying to break away from tradition and create something new, which resulted in some pretty exciting work.
This article will take you through the history and evolution of dadaism so that you can get an idea of what it is all about. We’ll also explore how these poets reacted to World War I and some famous examples of dada poetry today!
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What is Dada Poetry?
Dadaism is a cultural movement that originated in Berlin, Germany, during World War I. Dadaists were anti-war and wanted to break down the barriers between art and life. They did this by creating a new type of poetry called dada poetry. Dada poems use nonsense words, which forces readers to question what they are reading and make up their meanings for the words on the page. The origins of dadaism can be traced back to four individuals who later became known as “the fathers” of dada: Hugo Ball, Jean Arp, Hans Richter, and Marcel Janco.
Dada poems comprise a mixture of languages, letters and symbols. For instance, the poem “Dada Manifesto”, written by Hugo Ball in 1918, is just a list of random words that make no sense when read as sentences. The dadaists also often used nonsensical phrases to express their feelings about war and society during this period.
After World War I ended in 1919, dada poetry became less popular among artists. It was revived again, though, in the 1960s with poets like Allen Ginsberg, who wrote poems like “Howl,” which dealt with social injustices such as drug use and sexual orientation discrimination.
History of Dada Poetry
The earliest records of dada poetry are from 1916, but it was not until after World War I ended in 1919 that dada poetry became popular. Dada poets were concerned with the senselessness of war and society during this time, so they often used nonsensical phrases to express their feelings about these topics.
Hugo Ball, one of the fathers of Dada poetry, is responsible for some of the most iconic dada poems. According to The Guardian, Ball’s poem “DADA DADABOM” is one of the most well-known dadaist poetry pieces in history.
Some other famous poets include Tristan Tzara and Kurt Schwitters, who are also considered fathers of dadaism. With all these different people contributing to this art form, it’s no surprise that variations around its core themes were born, such as conceptual movement and performance poetry.
Poetry became popular during World War 1 when many artists found themselves disillusioned by society after experiencing war firsthand or seeing loved ones go off to fight for their country. In reaction, some poets began writing about the senselessness they saw in the war, while others expressed how much they disliked the traditional poetic forms.
In 1915, the Dada art movement was founded in Zurich by Tzara and other artists who expressed their distaste for society through satire, nonsense words, and a general mockery of what they called “art”. The following year there were three dadaist exhibitions, including one at Galerie Der Sturm, where Ball first saw his poem published.
This trend continued with more poets publishing pieces like Schwitters’ Merzgedichte, depicting how he felt about an experimental approach to poetry. With these new variations on dadaism being born after WWI had ended, it’s no surprise that eventually it would die out too, but not before influencing many other movements such as surrealism and blackout poetry.
The Evolution of Dada Poetry
Dada poetry still exists today, but it has changed over time. Its original purpose for being anti-war may be largely forgotten or relatively unknown at this point. You can find dada artists in places like Montreal, Canada and in countries such as Australia. You can also see it in street art around the world.
Nowadays, we use dada poetry to express more than its original agenda. It’s no longer a style of poetry strictly tied to dadaism but rather an aesthetic approach. You will see it on book covers and social medial platforms such as Instagram, Twitter and Tumblr. Dada poetry is a way to express oneself in an unhinged or unrestrained way, more than just writing poems but rather art pieces.
It’s not uncommon to see dadaist work that uses words from different languages such as German, French, Spanish and Swedish, displaying their fluidity in creativity while reinforcing the idea of breaking out traditional constraints on language.
This type of dadaism focuses less on political aspects. Instead, it utilises it as a means for artistic expression, which doesn’t need any direction or meaning behind its creation other than what has been put into it by the artist. An artist could choose to write their manifesto that justifies the piece they’re creating – such as Pablo Picasso’s essay “D’ejeuner sur l’herbe.”
How To Make A Dada Poem
There are many ways to create dada poetry. The most common way is to take a word and use it as your base, then build off of it by adding an adjective or noun in front. For example:
a)Bed becomes bed beaming with brilliance at breakfast
b)Mother becomes mother laughing with a mouthful of muscle
The meaning behind this is that dada poetry has no specific goal or purpose, and it’s all about the process. There could be some underlying message in there if you wanted to add one, but the point is not really what it means so much as how you make it.
The Tristan Traza Method
This method is one of the most popular and well-known ways to create a dada poem and involves a newspaper or magazine article of your choosing and cutting up individual words using a pair of scissors. You then put all the words in a bag and pick out one word at random to use. You can take this as far as you want by adding verbs or adjectives before that word if you want more of an effect (i.e., “triumphant” becomes “throwing triumphantly”).
The Fathers of Dadaist Poetry
The origins of dadaism can be traced back to few individuals who later became known as “the fathers” of dada:
Hugo Ball was a German poet living in Switzerland when he created the first Dada performance. He is one of the founders and leaders of dadaism and his wife, Emmy Hennings. Their performances were a mixture of reciting poetry to music and ballroom dance.
It was not about beauty or originality, but instead involved using any words they liked at that moment for their effects on others: “The word becomes a thing.” Ball’s poem-songs contained nonsense rhymes; phrases like ‘fireflies’ would be reinterpreted, so it rhymed with ‘daffodils’. He also used objects around him unconventionally, such as stepping out onto the stage covered from head to toe in chocolate syrup.
Jean Arp was a French writer and artist who became a part of the dada movement. Arp was born in Alsace-Lorraine, France but spent most of his life living abroad: he travelled throughout Europe with his family before settling in Paris at 25.
He joined Dada around 1920 after meeting Hans Richter, Max Ernst, Johannes Baader and Tristan Tzara during World War I. One contribution to dadaism that Jean Arp is known for is “Randomly Rendered Trees.” He created this painting by cutting pieces from paper collages and reassembling them on canvas using chance methods such as tossing dice or shuffling playing cards to decide their placement relative to one another. His goal was not to create a painting that satisfied the viewer’s eye but rather to make an artwork that appealed more to their intellect and emotions.
Arp was also one of the first people to use chance operations in his work. He would draw with ink on paper that he then cut into pieces and reassembled through drawing random lines, not to have any preconceived idea about what form it would take when completed. The unpredictability of this method appeals directly to our intuition; we can view art made using such methods without being told how or why it is essential beforehand – something dadaists thought artists should be doing over time.
Hans Richter was famous for his experiments in the dadaist style of collage. He would take photographs from unrelated sources and put them together to form a new piece, such as “Piece with Red”, which mixes elements of bloody meat and an open mouth with a red sky filled with stars on its background.
Marcel Janco was one of the earliest dadaists, co-founding the movement in 1916. He is known for “The New Age.” This painting depicts a group of people wearing masks and costumes that are all different colours as they engage with one another through various activities such as playing instruments or admiring each other’s works.
Tristan Tzara, who coined the name “dada” in 1916, is most well-known for his poem, “DADA MANIFESTO.” Tristan used this idea as a starting point for DADA MANIFESTO. He states his desire to destroy traditional language and create new languages with words to be incomprehensible at first glance because there are no rules logic governing them.
His goals were that every person could read something on their understanding and interpretation of it. The work by Tristan Tzara was a catalyst for dadaist poetry because his beliefs helped make this new form of art possible where people can interpret things in ways that were never before thought of.
If you take the time to understand it and look at it from a different perspective, you will see many layers of meaning behind dada art. There is no one way to interpret the poems because each person deals with their mental state, which makes things more complicated for them when they try to figure out what precisely these works mean.
Dada poetry is still relevant in the 21st century because people can relate to its simplicity and how it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Instead, it is an experiment on language itself, so anything goes! And without this form of art, we would never have been graced with some fantastic pieces of work from artists like Tristan Tzara himself!
The key takeaway is that dadaism was a form of art meant to provoke change, which it did in many ways. If you enjoyed this deep dive on dadaism, you might want to check out this article on blackout poetry next.