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David Antin Biography

(1932– ), Talking, talking at the boundaries, tuning, Selected Poems 1963–1973

talking poems talks self

American performance poet, born in Brooklyn, New York, educated at New York University. Antin was already the author of several books of poetry, including one of the finest contemporary elegies, ‘Definitions for Mendy’, when he began experimenting with talks as the basis for making poems. Since ‘Talking at Pomona’ (Talking, 1972), he has not published conventional poems; instead he gives improvised talks for public audiences, and then uses tapes to create a revised version for publication. These performances enable him to make relations between speech and writing, writer and audience, composition and text, highly visible: ‘I've never liked the idea of going into a closet to address myself over a typewriter what kind of talking is that?’ Talk interests him because ‘a new thing manifests itself in talking before it manifests itself anywhere else’, and even ‘the self itself is emergent in discourse’ (his texts have no punctuation, and phrases are grouped together to indicate pauses for thought and breath). Like many of his contemporary New American Poets, he uses autobiography, without confessionalism, as the material for investigating the nature of the self. Antin became Professor of Art at the University of California, San Diego, and questions of aesthetics drawn from his wide knowledge of art history, linguistics, ethnography, and literature are prominent in the talks. His main collections include talking at the boundaries (1976), tuning (1984), and Selected Poems 1963–1973 (1991).

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