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Bob Holman & Margery Snyder

Did You Know Pablo Picasso Was a Poet?

By February 27, 2014

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Speaking of interchange between the arts, have you heard the story of how Pablo Picasso came to poetry? We came across this knowledge thanks to Anastasios Kozaitis, in whose email Poem of the Day a few years ago we discovered Picasso’s poem “Boisgeloup 18 april XXXV” translated from the Spanish by Jerome Rothenberg. It turns out that Exact Change, the book publisher that specializes in “literary classics of surrealism, dada, fluxus, pataphysics, and other experimental art movements of the 19th and 20th century,” published a sampler of Pablo Picasso’s poetry in English in 2004: The Burial of the Count of Orgaz and Other Poems, edited by our favorite anthologist-duo, Jerome Rothenberg and Pierre Joris (of Poems for the Millennium fame). You can read excerpts from the book in PDF form at Ubuweb Historical, and you’ll find there a fascinating amalgam of journal-like but exquisitely surrealist prose poems and imagistic, aphoristic lyrics.

As Exact Change notes in their introduction to the book, “Pablo Picasso (1881 - 1973) is arguably the most famous and influential artist of the 20th century. What few in the English speaking world know is that in 1935, at age 54, an emotional crisis caused Picasso to halt all painting and devote himself entirely to poetry. Even after resuming his visual work, Picasso continued to write, in a characteristic torrent, until 1959, leaving a body of prose poems that André Breton praised as ‘an intimate journal, both of the feelings and the senses, such as has never been kept before.’”

Comments

November 13, 2008 at 6:42 am
(1) Jimi Rawson says:

Interesting, didn’t know that. Just goes to show what a deeply complex man Picasso really was! Interesting fact – Pablo Picasso was a self avowed communist. However, Picasso was also one of the world’s wealthiest artists, leaving his heirs an estate valued at $260 million ($1.5 billion in 2008 dollars) when he died in 1973. Pablo Picasso once remarked, ‘I like to live like a poor man, except with lots of money’. Lol!

More about Picasso

March 14, 2011 at 11:00 am
(2) Belle Hallett says:

I am trying to find the title of a Picasso poem that begins with the lines:
The eye of the Bull
The curtain
The painter
The bunch of flowers
and the date it was published; along with the contact information for the Picasso estate (I would like to reprint it).

Can you help?

Best,
Belle

June 9, 2011 at 11:57 am
(3) saira says:

hi,
i want to know the names of some artists which are poet too….its necessary for my thesis work…..

plz help me …friends
anamsaira12@yahoo.com.

March 1, 2014 at 5:44 pm
(4) Bob Hershon says:

When Picasso showed his poems to Gertrude Stein, the story goes, she read them carefully and finally said, “Paint, Picasso, paint.”

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