"I now feel like that I have missed a lot by not paying attention to the tiniest little details that I come across each passing day." - Nouf

Kenneth Goldsmith is a NYC writer very influenced by such major figures in US culture as Marcel Duchamp (painter, writer, conceptual artist), John Cage (musician, experimental composer, writer), and Andy Warhol (pop artist, perforrmer). Goldsmith himself has recently begun to teach so-called Uncreative Writing, but is equally noted for his provocative differential texts which he frequently publishes and exhibits in variant forms and media, as well as for his curating of the free-culture site ubu.com, which has been central to the distribution and republication of experimental sound, visual, and conceptual poetry from the 1960s to the present.

We will study two of Goldsmith's prose/poetry pieces. And we'll read a bit about "Conceptual Poetics." This movement at times seems as much a marketing descriptor as the accurate critical label for a literary movement. Nonetheless, it definitely frames Goldsmith's work (and that of some contemporaries) as oppositional to many of the most familiar, cherished values of poetry, literature and high art. Virtuosity, craft, expressivism, the artist-as-genius ... each of these is thrown into question by Goldsmith's problem works.

  • Traffic | HTML | PDF | (Web Edition: Eclipse), Make Now, Los Angeles, 2007.
  • Soliloquy HTML | PDF (Granary Books, 2001)

In the spirit of Goldsmith, you may find that you can "appreciate"the concepts more easily than the actual performance (i.e. reading the result). Reflect on that. Also, use it to your advantage and think about several other works if they interest you.

Goldsmith has performed and recorded parts of Soliloquy and all of Traffic

Poetry in Public - Conflicting readings of a differential text.
I would also like us to talk about Kenneth Goldsmith's recent, controversial reading at Brown University entitled "The Body of Michael Brown." The text has not been published and the nor has a performance recording/video been released. But you will find dozens of articles on the web (and thousands of posts in social media) discussing it.








Optional Reading:
For background, you could read an essay by Goldsmith himself and one by noted critic Marjorie Perloff, whose book Unoriginal Genius was largely inspired by Goldsmith's work:

*These pieces and a number of others written for the Poetry Foundation were revised and reprinted in Goldsmith's book _Uncreative Writing: Manipulating Language in the Digital Age_ Columbia UP, 2011.