David Antin is a special case. Even just flicking through the Anthology you will notice it right away. His poetry is different. It looks different, it reads different. Because actually it is poem-talk. Instead of writing poetry and then reading it to an audience, David’s poetry is an improvised talk performance in front of a live audience. A radially new way of doing things, it seems, but David sees himself actually as part of a long tradition dating back to Socrates – a creative endeavour much more concerned with expressing and exploring ideas than with the use of ornamental language.
Much of his poetry seems to be interested in the way phenomenological reality can be discovered and constructed in poetry and how reality and its representation change and modify each other. In connection to this Hoover notes on Antin: “In Antin’s reevaluation of modernism, Gertrude Stein and John Cage become ‘more significant poets and minds than either Pound or Williams’.” - I might not be a performance poet, but I am with him on that!I would definitely recommend listening to some of his talks (although I admit some are a bit lengthy…). You can quite a few on PennSound and UbuWeb:
It was obvious that my own response to David Antin will have to be something different than just a few lines of ‘normal’ poetry. I chose a podcast instead.
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A Private Occasion in a Public Place 2.0