Welcome! My name is Ben Niespodziany and I am a Chicago-based poet, music writer, and movie buff. I’m super happy to host what I hope will be a highly generative space, where writing prompts will be plentiful, and strangenesses and weirdnesses are not only welcome but embraced. There’s no pressure in anything we do this weekend. I simply want to show you the many ways of getting on the page. Some that have worked for me in the past, and others I made up for this workshop. I’ll provide more prompts than humanly possible in a single weekend, so if one doesn’t fit your style, skip it and move on. Whatever helps you write. Whatever helps you. Whatever helps. Again: no pressure.

I’m not going to take up too much time talking about the history of surrealism or tell you to study the Dadaist movement or to read only Leonora Carrington for three years straight (even though you really should, with her tarot deck under your pillow). I’m more so here to provide weird prompts to get you on the page. All weekend, surreal will be interchanged with strange and weird and absurd and magical and wild and off-kilter and bizarre. We’ll read poems and I’ll provide prompts and we’ll go from there. If anything seems out of place (like the snake over there on the floor, or the shoe that finally started to talk) feel free to let the Bending Genres moderators know.

Lastly, while there exists a deep history of surrealism and absurdism, this weekend will focus on modern surrealists, present day fabulists, writers still actively providing strange to the page. From prose poem to fable to origin story to microfiction, you’ll find a surrealist prompt at the bottom of each unique surrealist reading. Let’s begin.