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Kenneth Goldsmith

Related: avant garde - American literature - poetry


Kenneth Goldsmith (1961- ) is an American poet. He is founding editor of UbuWeb, teaches Poetics and Poetic Practice at the University of Pennsylvania and is Senior Editor of PENNsound. He hosts a weekly radio show at WFMU and has published eight books of poetry notably Fidget (2000), Soliloquy (2001) and Day (2003). He is editor of I’ll be Your Mirror: The Selected Andy Warhol Interviews (2004). He resides in New York City with his wife, artist Cheryl Donegan. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenneth_Goldsmith [Aug 2006]


UbuWeb was founded in 1996 by the poet Kenneth Goldsmith. It is the largest educational resource for avant-garde material on the internet, specifically visual, concrete and sound poetry, expanding to include film and MP3 archives. UbuWeb is an open, free space. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UbuWeb [Aug 2006]

High Pop: The avant garde as ear candy

Excerpts from Kenneth Goldsmith's 1997 article on European classical avant garde music and its relation to American DJ culture:

One night last November I attended one of the oddest New Music shows I'd ever been to. The ST-X Ensemble, with guest DJ Spooky, was performing the American premiere of lannis Xenakis' 1968 Kraanerg at the Great Hall at Cooper Union. The auditorium was packed with hipsters: gorgeous girls, tattooed guys, dreadlocks, shaved heads, black leather. For 75 minutes this crowd sat quietly on the hard wooden seats as the ST-X careened through some of the most forbidding, hair-raising High Modernism ever composed. When it was over, the crowd went nuts as Xenakis, conductor Charles Bornstein and Spooky all took multiple bows and curtain calls.


Early this summer I walked into Other Music on E. 4th St. In the back of the store there's a wall of rare and pricey vinyl. My eyes caught a Deutsche Grammophon release. Stockhausen's Hymnen, 1966, double LP. Great record--but I couldn't believe the $125 price tag. I just had found my second copy of it at a flea market for $5 the week before. I told a store employee I thought it was an outrageous price. He replied that Richard James--aka Aphex Twin--had been in the week before and wiped the store out of its avant-classical vinyl. Thus the hefty price on what was left...


Through an unprecedented coming together of marketing, DJ culture and rock 'n' roll, hipsters are flocking to dusty atonalists like Stockhausen, long marginalized by popular culture. There've been flirtations before--Stockhausen made an appearance on the cover of Sgt. Pepper, and "Revolution 9" was certainly influenced by the Beatles hanging out with John Cage via Yoko's Fluxus connections. But while Apple did give a one-shot record deal to John Tavener in 1970 to release The Whale, the Beatles / ex-Beatles pretty much stopped supporting experimental music (although they continued dubious excursions into the "classical" field like McCartney's horrid Liverpool Oratorio). And while Zappa, similarly, always endorsed Edgard Varése and Pierre Boulez, neither Bizarre Records nor any other Zappa imprint ever released or promoted anything by Boulez or his Serialist cronies.


And last time I checked, the $125 copy of Hymnen was gone. --http://freeform.wfmu.org/~kennyg/popular/articles/xenakis.html [Aug 2006]

Fidget (2000) - Kenneth Goldsmith

  • Fidget () - Kenneth Goldsmith [Amazon.com]
    Readers familiar with poet and visual artist Goldsmith's No. 111 2.7.93-10.20.96, perhaps the most exhaustive and beautiful collage work yet produced in poetry, wondered what he might possibly do for an encore. The answer came on June 16, 1997--Bloomsday--when Goldsmith used a dictaphone to note as much of as many of his body's movements as he could, keeping a verbal record of what happened when he walked across his bedroom, shook his head or performed more intimate functions. This volume charts the results in 11 sections, corresponding to Goldsmith's eleven hours awake that day, in clear homage to the hour-by-hour chapters of Joyce's Ulysses--that most bodily of modernist masterpieces. And as in Ulysses, different actions dominate different hours. (Goldsmith's masturbatory episode comes earlier, and more graphically, than Bloom's, taking place between one and two p.m.) Most of the time, the actual prose is not the point: "Facial muscles relax. Back tingles. Chills emerge. Right hand moves to top of head. Fingernail scrapes scalp. Thumb meets each successive fingertip. Rubs," though by nighttime we get lusher, lovelier phrases, like bits of Finnegan's Wake: "Unpegged chip of tongue. Stealing very hard ridge. Very hard skin in its septemberary... Hoo hoo arises. Giggle hits head." A brisk afterword from critic Marjorie Perloff (Poetic License, etc.) examines the links between Goldsmith and Beckett, concluding that Goldsmith "celebrates with perverse charm... the victory of mind over matter, and the inability to convey what we call body language except through language." But, as Perloff notes, the book is not the whole here: Goldsmith's project also inheres in a Java application done with programmer Clem Paulsen, and was interpreted in a vocal-visual performace by Theo Beckmann at New York's Whitney Museum of American Art (both archived at the publisher's Web site). This is another important book from Goldsmith, pointing the way to a rapproachment between poetry and conceptual and performance art--avant-gardists and art lovers of all stripes will want to experience its near-hypnotic pleasures. (June) -- Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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