Kenneth Goldsmith reading at President Obama's A Celebration of American Poetry at the White House on May 11, 2011
Freeport, New York
|Period||1993 - present|
Kenneth Goldsmith (born 1961) is an American poet. He is the founding editor of UbuWeb, teaches Poetics and Poetic Practice at the University of Pennsylvania, and is a Senior Editor of PennSound. He hosted a weekly radio show at WFMU from 1995 until June 2010. He has published ten books of poetry, notably Fidget (2000), Soliloquy (2001), Day (2003) and Goldsmith's American trilogy, The Weather (2005), Traffic (2007), and Sports (2008). He is the author of a book of essays, Uncreative Writing: Managing Language in a Digital Age (2011). As editor he published I’ll Be Your Mirror: The Selected Andy Warhol Interviews (2004) and is the co-editor of Against Expression: An Anthology of Conceptual Writing (2011). In 2013, he was appointed the Museum of Modern Art's first Poet Laureate. He resides in New York City with his wife, artist Cheryl Donegan, and his two sons.
Goldsmith was born in Freeport, New York. He was trained as a sculptor at the Rhode Island School of Design and graduated with a B.F.A in 1984. Goldsmith worked for many years within the art world as a text-based artist and sculptor before becoming a writer.
Conceptual Poetics and Poetic Practice
Driven by a preoccupation with “Uncreativity as Creative Practice”, Goldsmith is the habitual editor of one large project, contributing to both the study and practice of poetry as a writer, academic, and as curator of the prolific archives at UbuWeb. His process, which involves self-induced constraints, has produced: 600 pages of rhyming phrases ending with the sound r, sorted by syllables and alphabetized (No. 111 2.7.93-10.20.96, 1997), everything he said for a week (Soliloquy, 2001), every move his body made during a thirteen-hour period (Fidget, 1999), a year of transcribed weather reports (The Weather, 2005) and one day, the September 1, 2000 issue of The New York Times, transcribed (Day, 2003). Goldsmith's practice embraces the performance of the writer as process and plagiarism as content.
Extensive creative and critical responses to his work are archived at the Kenneth Goldsmith, Electronic Poetry Center with several being consolidated in Open Letter: Kenneth Goldsmith and Conceptual Poetics (2005). Notable addresses of Goldsmith's poetry include those of the eminent critics Marjorie Perloff, Craig Dworkin, Sianne Ngai, Robert Archambeau, and Johanna Drucker, as well as poets Bruce Andrews, Christian Bok, Darren Wershler-Henry, Christine Wertheim and Caroline Bergvall. Heriberto Yépez, Mexican writer and critic said on the newspaper Milenio, "Today's Joyce, Kenneth Goldsmith is the most emblematic writer of XXI Century's first decade."
The first symposium on Conceptual Poetics was held at the Oslo Poetry Festival in November 2007. A larger conference, Conceptual Poetry and its Others, organized by critic Marjorie Perloff was held at the University of Arizona Poetry Center in May 2008.
In 2011, he co-edited (with Craig Dworkin) Against Expression: An Anthology of Conceptual Writing (Northwestern University Press, Chicago) and published a book of essays related to notions of conceptual poetics, Uncreative Writing: Managing Language in a Digital Age (Columbia University Press, New York).
As a teacher at the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing, Goldsmith’s courses include "Uncreative Writing," "Interventionist Writing," and "Writing Through Art and Culture." The last of these is taught in partnership with the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia. Class tools are appropriation, theft, stealing, plundering, and sampling. Cheating, fraud, and identity theft are all encouraged. For Goldsmith, the classroom is a free space in which ethical queries can be conducted in a safe environment. In addition, Goldsmith has run a graduate seminar at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago entitled "Publishing as Project."
Radio, Sound, Live Events and Collaborations
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Goldsmith hosted a weekly show on WFMU, the New Jersey-based freeform radio station, from 1995 until June 2010, using the broadcast name of "Kenny G". The show was an extension of Goldsmith's writing experiments, his pedagogy and UbuWeb. His programs were titled (for various extended periods) "Kenny G's Hour of Pain," "Anal Magic" and "Intelligent Design."
He has also had numerous collaborations with musicians and composers. In 1993, Goldsmith embarked on a collaboration with avant-garde vocalist Joan La Barbara, resulting in a CD and book 73 Poems (Permanent Press / Lovely Music).
In 2005, Goldsmith collaborated with guitarist Alan Licht to stage an evening length performance of The Weather, as well as excerpts from Fidget. Goldsmith has also collaborated with musician David Grubbs with texts from Fidget.
In 2006, Goldsmith performed in the TRANS-WARHOL, Chamber Opera, a libretto based on his book I'll Be Your Mirror; The Andy Warhol Interviews . The project was a collaboration with choreographer Nicolas Musin, composer Philippe Schoeller and Ensemble Alternance. The opera premiered at the Bâtiment des forces motrices in Geneva in March 2007.
Goldsmith has written extensively about experimental music on the article A Popular Guide to Unpopular Music and has curated numerous musical events and compact discs. He was a musical curator for the Whitney Museum of American Art's The American Century, Part 2, which included 73 Poems. In 2004, he curated a CD for the Sonic Arts Network in London called The Agents of Impurity. In 2006 he organized a CD for the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston called The Body is a Sound Factory. Also in 2006, he organized an 8-hour-long performance at The Sculpture Center (New York City) of Erik Satie's Vexations "Pianoless Vexations" (UbuWeb) for any instrument other than piano.
In October 2007, a documentary film of Goldsmith's life and practice, Sucking on Words, by filmmaker Simon Morris was screened at Shandy Hall in Coxwold, UK and in London. The film was premiered at the Eccles Center at the British Library in London and subsequently screened at the Oslo Poetry Festival in November 2007.
In February 2008, he performed at the Instal 08 festival in Glasgow.
On April 17, 2009 Goldsmith organized an evening of contemporary poetry at The Whitney Museum of American Art in conjunction with the Jenny Holzer Retrospective entitled Conceptual Writing vs. The Flarf Collective featuring poets from both camps. Conceptualists included Christian Bök, Kim Rosenfield, Darren Wershler, formerly Darren Wershler-Henry and Goldsmith himself. Flarf poets included Gary Sullivan, Nada Gordon, Sharon Mesmer and K. Silem Mohammad.
On May 11, 2011, Goldsmith was featured at President and Mrs. Obama's A Celebration of American Poetry at the White House. He read works by Walt Whitman and Hart Crane, as well as from his work "Traffic." Others performing at The White House that day included: Billy Collins, Common, Rita Dove, Alison Knowles, Aimee Mann, Jill Scott and Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers. During the afternoon, Goldsmith led a poetry workshop for high school students with Michelle Obama.
Goldsmith was invited to participate in dOCUMENTA(13) in Kassel, Germany, 2012. In 2011, dOCUMENTA published his chapbook, Letter To Bettina Funcke as part of their 100 Notes - 100 Thoughts series.
In 2013, he was appointed the Museum of Modern Art's first Poet Laureate. His tenure included a series, Uncontested Spaces: Guerilla Readings, in the MoMA Galleries, where as part of his Poet Laureate program, he invited renowned writers to choose works in MoMA's collection, develop a response, and then select a space in the Museum galleries where they performed the resulting readings and texts. Participants included David Shields, Sheila Heti, Rick Moody, John Zorn, Stefan Sagmeister, Charles Bernstein, Christian Bök, Vanessa Place, Maira Kalman, Heidi Julavits, Alex Ross (music critic), Vito Acconci, and others. Every Friday, from January to July 2013, Goldsmith himself contributed readings in the galleries.
Printing Out The Internet
On May 22, 2013, Kenneth Goldsmith, in collaboration with LABOR and UbuWeb, created a Tumblr page where they invited people to print and send pages from the Internet to an art gallery in Mexico City for the conceptual art project Printing Out The Internet, which ran from July 26 to August 31, 2013, with the intention to literally print out the entire Internet. Goldsmith dedicated the exhibition to Aaron Swartz, an Internet activist who committed suicide while facing federal charges of illegally downloading and disseminating millions of files from the digital library JSTOR. As Goldsmith said in an interview, "The amount of what he liberated was enormous — we can’t begin to understand the magnitude of his action until we begin to materialize and actualize it. This project tries to bring that point home." By the end of the project, Goldsmith had accumulated over 10 tonnes of paper from more than 20,000 submitters.
Though Goldsmith said all the paper would be recycled at the end of the project, bloggers and journalists criticized the project for its alleged environmental impact. Goldsmith and his supporters, however, argued that the conversation generated by the piece becomes just as important as the work itself. As one art critic wrote, "Perhaps we should see Goldsmith’s project not as one of triviality, spectacle, or waste, but rather as a vital (even if temporary) documentation and as a form of protest to keep the internet free, in so much that it is. Why print out the internet? Because we can, for now, and because maybe we should."
On March 13, 2015, Kenneth Goldsmith read his poem "The Body of Michael Brown" at the Interrupt 3 event at Brown University. The poem was a reading of the St. Louis County Coroner's Office autopsy report of Michael Brown. Brown was an African-American teenager who was shot and killed by a white police office in Ferguson, Missouri on August 9, 2014, setting off local protests which spread to many cities nationwide. Goldsmith explained his process on Facebook: "I altered the text for poetic effect; I translated into plain English many obscure medical terms that would have stopped the flow of the text; I narrativized it in ways that made the text less didactic and more literary." Notably, he moved the autopsy's reference to Brown’s genitalia to the end of the poem. The poem was met with controversy, including a response on Twitter from the poet Cassandra Gillig allegedly including a threat on Goldsmith's life: “i want 2 organize large benefit reading…100000 poets strong 4 the death of kenneth goldsmith we wld take donations of weapons not $” In response, Gillig's account was suspended by Twitter.
Brown University professor John Cayley stated that the video recording of the poem will not be released to the public, as requested by Goldsmith. Goldsmith said that he is "requesting that Brown University not make public the recording of my performance of ‘The Body of Michael Brown.’ There’s been too much pain for many people around this and I do not wish to cause any more.”
- No. 110 10.4.93-10.7.93 (Artists Museum, nddz, Poland, 1993)
- 73 Poems (1993), with Joan La Barbara (1994)
- No. 109 2.7.93-12.15.93 (Bravin Post Lee, 1994)
- No. 220.127.116.11-10.20.96 (The Figures, 1997)
- Gertrude Stein on Punctuation (Abaton Books, 2000)
- Fidget (Coach House Books, 2000)
- 6799 (zingmagazine, 2000)
- Soliloquy (Granary Books, 2001)
- Head Citations (The Figures, 2002)
- Day (The Figures, 2003)
- The Weather : Winter Spring Summer Fall (Make Now, Los Angeles, 2005)
- Traffic (Make Now, Los Angeles, 2007)
- Sports (Make Now, Los Angeles, 2008)
- Against Expression: An Anthology of Conceptual Writing (Northwestern University Press, Chicago, 2011)
- Uncreative Writing: Managing Language in a Digital Age (Columbia University Press, New York, 2011)
- Seven American Deaths and Disasters (powerHouse Books, New York, 2013)
- Goldsmith's Author Archive at The Poetry Foundation
- Being Boring
- Uncreativity as Creative Practice
- If It Doesn't Exist on the Internet, It Doesn't Exist
- From (Command) Line to (Iconic) Constellation
- Jacket Magazine
- Home - Milenio - Grupo Milenio
- NU Press -> Title Detail
- Uncreative Writing
- University of Pennsylvania | Department of English
- Undergraduate/2006/Fall/ENGL111.301 | University of Pennsylvania | Department of English
- Undergraduate/2008/Fall/ENGL111.301 | University of Pennsylvania | Department of English
- Undergraduate/2007/Fall/ENGL165.301 | University of Pennsylvania | Department of English
- Anschutz Distinguished Fellowship in American Studies - Anschutz Distinguished Fellowship in American Studies - Program in American Studies - Princeton University
- playlists and archives for Kenny G's Hour of Pain
- WFMU: Radio Boredcast: Playlist from March 30, 2012
- Intelligent Design with Kenny G playlist | 09.12.07
- Nancy Princenthal on Kenneth Goldsmith's "Fidget"
- Browse by Artist: PEOPLE LIKE US & KENNY G
- Flarf is Dionysus. Conceptual Writing is Apollo. by Kenneth Goldsmith
- Qwartz | international network for new, electronic music and digital art
- A Celebration of American Poetry at the White House | The White House
- dOCUMENTA (13) - panorama
- Kenneth Goldsmith | E-Books | Hatje Cantz
- Tumblr for Printing out the Internet.
- Zak, Dan (July 26, 2013). "'Printing Out the Internet' exhibit is crowdsourced work of art" The Washington Post. Retrieved 13 September 2013
- Walker, Rob (May 29, 2013). "Printing the Internet" Yahoo News. Retrieved on September 13th, 2013.
- Mockler, Kathryn (July 26th, 2013). "Kathryn Mockler: On Printing Out the Internet" The Lemon Hound. Retrieved on September 13th, 2013.
- Kenneth Goldsmith on Uncreative Writing on NPR, April 1, 2012
- Kenneth Goldsmith reads at President and Mrs. Obama's A Celebration of American Poetry at The White House, May 11, 2011
- Kenneth Goldsmith at The White House Poetry Workshop with Michelle Obama, May 11, 2011
- Jon Stewart on Goldsmith's White House performance, May 11, 2011
- Talk radio host Michael Savage on Goldsmith's White House performance (MP3 link)
- Kenneth Goldsmith page at the Academy of American Poets
- Kenneth Goldsmith Entry from the Greenwood Encyclopedia of American Poetry
- Kenneth Goldsmith at the Electronic Poetry Center
- "Sucking on Words" (2007) a documentary about Goldsmith by Simon Morris at ubu.com
- Ubu.com: Kenneth Goldsmith
- Kenneth Goldsmith's sound works on PENNsound
- Kenneth Goldsmith, Department of English, University of Pennsylvania
- UPENN Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing
- Video of Goldsmith reading from Weather, Traffic and Sports in Buffalo on April 7, 2008
- Interview in Rain Taxi Review of Books
- Interview for Ràdio Web MACBA (December, 2010) MP3 link
- Audio interview on his personal experience as a sound collector (July, 2012) MP3 link
- "Proudly Fraudulent: An Interview With MoMA's First Poet Laureate, Kenneth Goldsmith," The Awl, February 6, 2013
- "Plagiarism: Maybe It's Not So Bad," NPR interview, On The Media, March 8, 2013
- "Uncreative Writing: Redefining Language and Authorship in the Digital Age," Maria Popova, Brain Pickings, March, 2013
- Kenneth Goldsmith, Artists Experiment video and profile at The Museum of Modern Art
- "Transforming the Discourse: MoMA Appoints Its First Poet Laureate" The Wall Street Journal,
- "UBU Web y UBU MEX: Entrevista con Kenneth Goldsmith" Revista Código, March, 2013 Vol. CCLXI No. 65, p. A22
- "The Poetry of Archiving," Video interview at transmediale 2013 by Cornelia Sollfrank, Berlin, February 1, 2013
- "After Kenneth Goldsmith": an interview with Goldsmith at The Buenos Aires Review
- Penn Professor Sparks Controversy With Michael Brown Poem
- A Poet Turned Michael Brown's Autopsy Report Into Click-Bait as Performance Art
- Death Threat For Michael Brown Autopsy Poem — Kenneth Goldsmith Responds
- Kenneth Goldsmith Remixes Michael Brown Autopsy Report as Poetry