Of his early poetry’s connection to science, Antin told Contemporary Authors: “My background in linguistics and my background in science reflect my interest in the human significance of language structures… Definitions (1967) reflects my interest in the language of science and its implications, Code of Flag Behavior (1968), my interest in the pop vernacular and cliche. The term ‘found poetry’ with its suggestion of the ‘trouvaille’ and estheticism of junk sculpture was always far from my concerns. I am interested in the lethal implications of socially debased language, at least I was at the time of Code of Flag Behavior, which has something in common with the pop Art strategies of Warhol, Lichtenstein and Wesselman. Contrary to the beliefs of many poets, all language is ‘found,’ but some language is not only found, but second and third and hundredth hand.”
As a critic, Antin has been instrumental in providing new insights into artists such as Andy Warhol, Andy Katz, Sol Lewitt, and Carl Andre. His book of essays, Radical Coherence: Selected Essays on Art and Literature (2011) collects over forty years of looking at, and thinking about, innovative art. Douglas Messerli described Antin’s idiosyncratic, lucid style: “Reading Antin on art is as if one were accompanying a lively friend or uncle on trips to the museums and galleries throughout the country over a period of several years, the only way one can truly come to know and appreciate art.” Radical Coherency also includes Antin’s essays on modern and post-modern literature, especially poetry. Critic Marjorie Perloff told the San Diego Reader: “David Antin’s early essays were uniquely prescient, and many of them have become classics. Meanwhile, the ‘talk pieces’ included here, most of them dating from the ‘80s and early ‘90s, uncannily anticipate the hybrid texts of conceptual writing today, taking up, as they do, complex philosophical issues that can be addressed but never resolved.”
David Antin taught in the Department of Visual Arts at the University of California-San Diego for over 25 years. He has received numerous honors and awards for his work, including fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities. He received the PEN Los Angeles Award for Poetry in 1984. He is married to the artist Eleanor Antin and lives in California.
- Definitions, Caterpillar Press, 1967.
- Code of flag behavior, Black Sparrow Press, 1968.
- Meditations, Black Sparrow Press, 1971.
- Talking, Kulchur Foundation, 1972.
- Talking at the Boundaries, New Directions, 1976.
- Tuning, New Directions, 1984.
- Selected Poems, 1963-1973,Sun & Moon Press (Los Angeles, CA), 1991.
- What it Means to Be Avant-Garde, New Directions, 1993.
- i never knew what time it was, University of California Press (Berkeley, CA), 2005.
- john cage uncaged is still cagey, Singing Horse Press, 2006.
- Autobiography, Something Else Press, 1967.
- After the War: A Long Novel with Few Words, Black Sparrow Press, 1973.
- Dialogue/Discourse/ Research: Santa Barbara Museum of Art: September 1, through October 28, 1979,The Museum, 1979.
- (With Charles Bernstein) A Conversation with David Antin, Granary Books (New York, NY), 2001.
- Radical Coherency: Selected Essays on Art and Literature, 1966-2005, University of Chicago Press, 2011.
- Bernard Pullman, Modern Theory of Molecular Structure, third edition, Dover, 1962.
- Heinrich Dorrie, One Hundred Great Problems of Elementary Mathematics: Their History Solution, Dover, 1965.
- Werner A. Gunther, Physics of Modern Electronics, revised edition, Dover, 1966.
- Hornick, Lita, David Antin: Debunker of the "Real,"Swollen Magpie Press (Putnam Valley, NY), 1979.
- Paul, Sherman, So To Speak: Rereading David Antin, Binnacle Press (London), 1982.
- Poetry, April, 1968, August, 1968; New York Times, August 25, 1968; Virginia Quarterly Review, 1969; New York Times Book Review, November 28, 1976; Nation, December 11, 1976; New Republic, March 5, 1977.
Poems By David Antin
David Antin was born in New York City in 1932. He earned an MA in linguistics at City College of New York, where he studied the work of Gertrude Stein, a poet whose avant-garde aesthetic and interest in art would influence his own work. A poet, artist, and critic, Antin is associated with a group of artists and poets who brought new definitions and ambitions to poetry in the early 1970’s. Antin is associated with Jerome Rothenberg and Charles Bernstein, who collaborated with Antin on the book A Conversation with David Antin (2001). Antin’s work in postmodern forms of art and writing led him, in the ‘70s, to “talk poems,” a hybrid of criticism, poetry, and storytelling that involves Antin discoursing freely on a subject in front of an audience. Some of Antin’s most famous works, including Talking (1972), Talking at the Boundaries (1976), and What it Means to be...