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Poet's quotes compiled by Frances Sjoberg on the occasion of the Conceptual Poetry and Its Others Conference, University of Arizona
CHARLES BERNSTEIN
1. In poetry, they talk about finding your voice, which is too often a way of evading the voices to be found in the writing.
2. Not only do I consider works of official verse culture to be poetry (which is not, for me, an honorific category), but also one of the key features of official verse culture [is] that it could necessarily include some poetry that I like quite a lot.
3. I prefer minerals to insects but I have been working on this with my ontologist.
4. As an alternative to National Poetry Month, I propose that we have an International Anti-Poetry Month. As part of the activities, all verse in public places will be covered over--from the Statue of Liberty to the friezes on many of our government buildings...Parents will be asked not to read Mother Goose...Religious institutions will have to forego reading verse passages from the liturgy...with hymns strictly banned...No vocal music will be played on the radio or sung in concert halls. Children will have to stop playing all slapping and counting and singing games and stick to board games and football.
5. Oddly, it is a form of dissent these days to hold out that art that doesn't get the market share can actually be as valuable as the art that does....I'm for the ketchup that loses the race.
6. Attention: Write down everything you hear for one hour.
7. There is still a great deal of conceptualizing that leads up to any intuition.
TRACIE MORRIS
1. Conceptual frameworks always determine the scope and form of my poems. Particularly the improvised ones.
2. We often associate medical advances as helping the body, but here I want to emphasize the structural or conceptual dystopia of sexism that impacts the structure of the female body.
3. We will be looking at...the performative utterances of Black women poetically and in some cases, musically. The interpretation...gives us insight into how different vocal modes, sounds and tones are understood by the listener and reader.
4. Philly! If I ate cheesesteak I'd be in heaven but as it is, I'll be happy to be back east with the hard core language school posse as they beat me into submission before I join the club!
5. The text is the body. The body tests text.
6. Racial and sexual power dynamics have not changed for 500 years, Morris says, and she doens't expect a change for 500 more.
7. The requirements are consistent attendance and promptness (this is mandatory. No late papers will be accepted and no incompletes are offered for this class.


CRAIG DWORKIN
1. My point is not that Language poetry has had no role in building (or dismantling) certain careers, but rather that the sense of Language Poetry as institutionally successful, or a tool in the career building of professors, is like saying that Coventry Patmore has been assimilated by the academy and converted into cultural capital.
2. ...making a more comprehensive section of the poetic record available to scholarly consideration is imperative at a moment when the literary history of the last few decades is just now beginning to be written and contested.
3. The language of these poems is motivated along multiple, but unprivileged axes;...Language, in these poems, idles, the gears grating.
4. -L-A-U-T-G-E-D-I-C-H-T--L-A-U-T-G-E-D-I-C-H-T--L-A-U-T-G-E-D-I-C-H-T
5. Legion (II) is a response to my poem Legion, which formerly appeared on this site. That original poem was composed by rearranging and recontextualizing the true/false questions of the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory....Although the 1942 Inventory has been widely discredited and is no longer published, distributed or supported, the corporation that licenses the exam feels that Legion violates copyright. On the contrary, Legion is almost certainly a "fair use" of its source text (as protected by Title 17, 107 of the United States Code); however it has been removed from this site as a courtesy.
6. ...the new forms and structures of conceptual writing recall the sense of artifice, constraint, and perversity that the sonnet too must once have had.
7. One should always remember Benjamin's warning: "Never trust what writers say about their own writing."
KENNETH GOLDSMITH
1. I, too, have had an experience similar to Marjorie's.
2. But yeah it bothers me. Museums can't do it, because they've got to get permission. They've gotta get through hoops. They've gotta pay. They've gotta do contracts. They've got to do everything, and we don't have to do any of that shit! I haven't written a contract in my life for anything on UbuWeb. It doesn't exist! And by the way, the plug could get pulled tomorrow and the whole thing could vanish. We've come close...
3. Any avantist who made a point of killing art did it with impeccable taste, hence its ultimate absorption into the canon of art.
4. I prefer email to hugs, culture to nature, air-conditioning to gentle breezes, fluorescent lighting to tropical sunsets, theft to originality, falsification to truth, the manufactured to the hand-crafted, Barry Bonds to Hank Aaron, and value artifice more than life itself.
5. My most cherished books are the various anthologies that appeared in the 1960s.
6. Most likely, you can't understand a word I'm saying, even though it's your native language....the air is now thick with sound posing as language.
7. ...we shall reminisce about the time when human beings still wrote poetry for other humans.
COLE SWENSEN
1. Focus your life on the precise point at which perception turns to thought.
2. The base structure of both the city and the poem is the labyrinth...As in any maze, you can only see to the next corner, never around it.
3. One of the things that I'd like to manage to do when I write is to have the texts generate a sort of phenomenon of persistence, (like certain short pieces of music seem to continue to be heard after silence has returned).
4. Unification is another misleading term. It's a euphemism for conformity even among ourselves. We must continue to differ, even to disagree.
5. The poem becomes a search for the new structures that time makes when memory becomes the living present.
6. I'm always a little puzzed by the fetish for origniality, yet participate in it fully.
7. Never paint a moving part.
CHRISTIAN BOK
1. Aesthetic criticism has, of course, remarked at length upon the role of the nude in the history of art, describing the ways in which the body of the woman has become a cipher for both the idealized values of formal "beauty" and the subaltern values of erotic "desire." The pin-ups here suggest the extreme degrees to which a poet might begin to fetishize the sensual, optical appeals of language itself, admiring the contours of letterforms in a manner reminiscent of obsessive, libidinal fixations. The letters in the caption of the usual, porno image have thus begun to displace the nude body, behaving like it rather than referring to it….
2. Such a cartouche is a seedpod of cocoons, ready to burst open, like the front cover of a book, pollenating us with larval spores that we, in turn, incubate and transmit.
3. Innovation in art no longer differs from the kind of manufactured obsolescence that has come to justify advertisements for "improved" products.
4. I do not write anecdotes about my personal life, largely because I do not think that such storytelling is going to make much of an epistemological contribution to our understanding of poetics itself.
5. Langpo has pushed poetry as far as poetry can go; now poetry must find new avenues of thought beyond poetry itself, seeking inspiration, for example, in the work of architects and musicians, scientists and engineers.
6. Lewis Carroll, I believe, has Humpty Dumpty say "take care of the sounds, and the sense will take care of itself."
7. I still feel that I have a very long way to go in order to boost the profile of avant-garde poetry among a mainstream readership.
CAROLINE BERGVALL
1. Exactly! We can also be used as relics because of the body parts.
2. Even for a limited period of time, devising specific rules to regulate one's behaviour demands great effort of concentration as well as a capacity for physical exertion of a kind which can threaten, or indeed collapse, a sense of personal safety.
3. In a way, it's about timeliness rather than timelessness.
4. How much of the hand and how much of writing is there in the handwriting?
5. The notion of writing in one language yet retaining strong cultural roots in another is one way of actively responding to the sense of cultural doubling-up which I have always experienced. This split or double (depending on your point of view) condition is shared by a great number of people today and it is affecting the ways in which bilingual or bicultural writers are develolping their works.
6. What is it I need to imagine? The shape of somatised writing?
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Originally Published: June 1st, 2008

Kenneth Goldsmith's writing has been called some of the most "exhaustive and beautiful collage work yet produced in poetry" by Publishers Weekly. Goldsmith is the author of eight books of poetry, founding editor of the online archive UbuWeb (http://ubu.com), and the editor I'll Be Your Mirror: The Selected Andy Warhol...

  1. June 1, 2008
     Mathew Timmons

    Thanks for posting notes from the conference, Kenny - sounds like it was good.

  2. June 3, 2008
     Jilly

    I don't understand what the "point" of this anthology series is. I'm not being a smartass - I am genuinely asking.

  3. June 3, 2008
     ProPoe

    Hey... any chance you could talk some about what went on with the "others"? Or in the roundtables?

  4. June 4, 2008
     Kenneth Goldsmith

    Jilly -- I was asked by the Poetry Foundation to blog the Conceptual Poetry conference in Tucson, hence this "anthology."