David Antin Radical Coherency: Selected Essays on Art and Literature, 1966 to 2005 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011) (detail of cover pictured)
reviewed by Douglas Messerli
One of the first things anyone approaching David Antin's marvelous new collection of essays on art and literature will notice is the striking image on the book's cover, a photograph that depicts David Antin, looking perhaps a bit more Buddha-like than in does in real-life, walking toward another image of himself, this from the back side of the face. There is something arresting about this image, even a bit eerie, but I made little of it when I first saw it, except to register that it represented an image of the author, symbolically speaking, of 1966 coming towards his current being. A few friends, however, found that image quite disturbing, one suggesting he had to keep the book face down on his coffee table. Perhaps it was just the oddity of having a photograph, which we associate with the real world, representing something that we know cannot truly happen, one aspect of self meeting up with the other.
A talk by David Antin "Rethinking Freud – Taking Freud out of Psychoanalysis" 3:00 PM Tuesday February 16 at the Kelly Writers House A talk by David Antin "Rethinking Freud – Taking Freud out of Psychoanalysis" 3:00 PM Tuesday February 16 at the Kelly Writers House
David Antin is a poet, performance artist, art and literary critic internationally known for his "talk pieces" -- improvisational blends of comedy, story and social commentary that critics have described as "a cross between Lenny Bruce and Ludwig Wittgenstein" or alternately as "a blend of Mark Twain and Gertrude Stein." New Directions has published three books of these "talk pieces" -- Talking at the Boundaries (1976), Tuning (1984), and What it Means to Be Avant-Garde (1993). Tuning was awarded the prize for poetry for 1984 by the PEN Center of Los Angeles. Much of his earlier work was collected in Selected Poems 1963-1973 published by Sun and Moon Press in 1991. Antin has performed at the Whitney Museum, the Guggenheim, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Getty Center in the U.S., at the Centre Pompidou and the Musée d'Art Moderne in Paris, and performed both improvised and scripted verbal works for radio and television. Antin has designed Skypoems, short texts he describes as "commercials that aren't selling anything," that have been skytyped over Los Angeles and San Diego, and Word Walks for urban parks, as well as an ongoing electronic poem for an airport. He received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the NEH and was awarded the PEN Los Angeles Award for Poetry in 1984. He has published criticism in most major art and literary journals, and his work has been written about in The Poetics of Indeterminacy, Marjorie Perloff (Princeton, 1981); The Object of Performance, Henry Sayre (Chicago, 1989); The Jazz Text, Charles O. Hartman (Princeton, 1991). An extensive interview with him has been published in Some Other Frequency: Interviews with Innovative American Authors, ed. Larry McCaffery, U. Penn. 1996, and the Review of Contemporary Fiction devoted its entire Spring 2001 issue to his work. Dalkey Archive recently republished his 1972 book talking (originally published by Kulchur Foundation) with a Preface by Marjorie Perloff and a Postface by David Antin. Granary Books recently published A Conversation with David Antin, the text of a three month email conversation between David Antin and Charles Bernstein. The most recent works include two new collection of talk pieces -- I Never Knew What Time It Was (UC Press, 2005) and John Cage Uncaged is Still Cagey (Singing Horse, 2005).