Each Thursday, The Arty Semite features excerpts and reviews of the best contemporary Jewish poetry. This week Jake Marmer writes about the surrealist dialogues of Adam Shechter and Daniel Y. Harris.
The family of Jewish Surrealists and Dadaists is extensive, ranging from Dada’s founding poet Tristan Tzara, to French filmmaker Nelly Kaplan, to American media artist Man Ray. This family has now experienced a seismic shift with the inclusion of two new members — Adam Shechter and Daniel Y. Harris, whose chapbook “Paul Celan and the Messiah’s Broken Levered Tongue: An Exponential Dyad” was published by Cervena Barva Press earlier this year. The previous collaborative work of these two authors, “Seven Dead Kafkas and a Fork,” has been featured in Exquisite Corpse, the prestigious online journal of Surrealism, but this is their debut appearance in print.
The chapbook is a dialogue that exiles itself from easily identifiable goals and whose subject escapes specific plot lines. Perhaps, this work is an attempt to re-map the history of Jewish esoteric mythology, focusing on Messianic obsessions as well as a kaleidoscope of traumas — national, universal, metaphysical, and the authors’ own.
Here’s a segment, where Harris takes the voice of Paul Celan, the great Jewish poet and Holocaust survivor who committed suicide by jumping into the Seine river, while Shechter responds as the Messiah: