Learn the legacy of Black surrealist poet Aimé Césaire at the Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg

A report by Maggie Duffy for The Tampa Bay Times.

Aimé Césaire was a key figure in establishing an African diaspora literary movement.

The Dalí Museum continues to highlight surrealism’s influence with a new exhibition revealing the life and legacy of renowned Black poet, author and politician Aimé Césaire, who lived from 1913-2008.

“Aimé Césaire: Poetry, Surrealism and Négritude” examines his poetry, political activism and ties to the art and literature of his time.

The free exhibition opens Sept. 10 in the Raymond James Community Room. It was co-curated by the Studio@620 founder and artistic director Bob Devin Jones and Dalí Museum curator of education Peter Tush.

Hailing from French Caribbean island Martinique, Césaire co-founded the movement Négritude while studying in Paris in the 1930s. Négritude was an anti-colonial cultural and political movement that aimed to create and cultivate Black consciousness. It was influenced by surrealism and the Harlem Renaissance.

Césaire and his fellow writer, wife Suzanne, founded the literary review Tropiques, which featured anti-colonial poetry and essays penned by a group of Martinican intellectuals.

He found a friend and supporter in surrealism co-founder Andre Breton — likewise with Pablo Picasso, whose drypoints and etchings illustrated Césaire’s collection of poems, Corps perdu (Lost Body).

In 1945, he was elected mayor of Fort-de-France, Martinique, and deputy to the French National Assembly. He later founded the Parti Progressiste Martiniquais, serving the party for 47 years.

A variety of Césaire’s books will be available for purchase in the museum store. Programming including poetry readings, performing arts and lectures held at the Dalí and the Studio@620.

While access to the exhibit and the museum’s ground floor is free, online timed reservations must be made by selecting “ground floor only” at thedali.org/exhibit/aime.

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