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Famous people, bedrooms, and surrealists

October 27, 2011

Today, in my creative writing class, I had my students jot down the first famous people, alive or dead, who came to mind.

Then, I had them describe a dream they had last night, which I figured would be pretty fresh in their minds as the class starts at 8:00 AM and a lot of them have just staggered out of bed. If they could not remember their dreams, then I asked them to write about their bedrooms, or sheets, or room-mate, or whatever.

Finally, I had them circle the third famous person on their list and stick their dream/bedroom paragraph into a dialogue with the famous person. This is the kind of thing the surrealists used to do in Paris, while hanging around cafes, drinking. My lovely, obedient students bowed their heads over their notebooks, as though my instructions were entirely normal. Maybe this would make Andre Breton happy. But sometimes I feel guilty, like I have tamed a wild animal and brought him home. It is like hearing the Rolling Stones in the grocery store. This used to be the music we rebelled to, the music our parents would not let us play, and now it is the music we buy zucchini to.

Anyways, we got some great things. Michael Jordan told one student to “Suck it up,” when he complained about how cold it was. And Beyonce confided that she, too, sleeps under a red comforter.

I was happy. I left class wishing that I gave myself prompts like this, but it is hard to be a surrealist with yourself. You need another surrealist sitting across the cafe table from you, making you say the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear, say, zebra.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. October 28, 2011 1:21 pm

    I just wanted to let you know I enjoyed the post really much 🙂

  2. Kirsti permalink
    November 6, 2011 9:53 pm

    Is it all right if I steal this prompt? Fabulous!

  3. November 7, 2011 4:43 pm

    Oh! Gosh, this is so good it puts me in a better mood!

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