Kenneth GoldsmithSeven American Deaths and Disasters

powerHouse Books, 2013

by John Ebersole on March 23, 2014

Kenneth Goldsmith

View on Amazon

Kenneth Goldsmith‘s latest book Seven American Deaths and Disasters (powerHouse Books, 2013), a title taken from the series of Warhol paintings by the same name, is a classic book of defamiliarization. By transcribing the words broadcast in real-time by the media’s unscripted response to historical events, Goldsmith brilliantly drains these infamous moments of cliche. Choosing seven critical moments in American history, which all have in common the spectacle of violence and lose, Goldsmith creates a traumatic prose that yields a poetic response to the John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, and John Lennon assassinations, the space shuttle Challenger disaster, the Columbine shootings, 9/11, and the death of Michael Jackson.

Because we experience public events most often through the media, those events quickly take on the voltage of performance, and Goldsmith takes advantage of this by being the casting director and choosing who will have the speaking roles. In “Seven American Deaths and Disasters”, most often those speaking roles go to the reporters or radio personalities completely unprepared to articulate what they are reporting. As a result, we see how language fails us, saves us, and also indicts us. At times disturbing and emotional, the book let’s us relive and reconsider those historical events again, but in the present, off-screen, and privately. During our chat, we discuss the resistance his work sometimes encounters in the poetry world, the nature of the “genuine”, how this book deviates from his previous work, and Kenneth and I take turns reading passages from his book, and so much more. I hope you enjoy our chat as much as I did.

{ 0 comments }

David BiespielCharming Gardeners

February 16, 2014

David Biespiel‘s Charming Gardeners (University of Washington Press, 2013) is unlike any book I’ve read in a long time. Filled with epistolary poems, his book – despite being populated by the poet’s friends and family – is actually a work of great loneliness. In many ways, Biespiel’s journey is America’s, where the road is both [...]

Read the full article →

Don ShareWishbone

January 19, 2014

Like great critics, the poetry of great editors is often overlooked, but I don’t see how this can be the case with Don Share, whose work is too good to be ignored. A brilliant combination of the public and private, meshed together by a dark intuitive music, his poems brawl in ways that will startle [...]

Read the full article →

Adam FitzgeraldThe Late Parade

December 10, 2013

The Late Parade (Liveright, 2013) has received a lot of attention and it’s well-deserved. Adam Fitzgerald‘s poetry is a berserk love song and between his high-rhetoric and experimental disposition, the reader is treated to a performance that pushes delight into zones of trauma. The poems in The Late Parade nearly outbrave us with their will, [...]

Read the full article →

Ange MlinkoMarvelous Things Overheard

November 24, 2013

In Marvelous Things Overheard (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013), Ange Mlinko‘s poems exhibit a sonically rich landscape articulated by a beautiful voice that is so measured and covert that history itself is seduced into singing to us who are decaying in the present. Mostly centered in the Mediterranean, Mlinko’s poems guide us into the prefectures [...]

Read the full article →

Stephanie StricklandDragon Logic

November 21, 2013

[Cross-posted from New Books in Literature] At the age of five, poet Stephanie Strickland and her sister received a book from their grandmother that included a poem by John Farrar called “Serious Omission.” I know that there are dragons St. George’s, Jason’s, too, And many modern dragons With scales of green and blue;   But though I’ve been [...]

Read the full article →

Mary RuefleTrances of the Blast

November 3, 2013

Mary Ruefle‘s newest book of poems Trances of the Blast (Wave Books, 2013) is brilliant. Her poems have the confidence of a poet who is utterly fearless, but wise enough to never come out and brag about it. Her poetry is honest, but dignified, thoughtful and bizarre, and with a fidelity to lived experience that [...]

Read the full article →

Elizabeth WinderPain, Parties, Work: Sylvia Plath in New York, Summer 1953

October 18, 2013

[Cross-posted from New Books in Biography] It is a struggle sometimes in biography to find new ways to write about subjects about whom many biographies have been written. This is particularly pronounced in the case of iconic figures of the 20th century (think: Marilyn Monroe, Jacqueline Onassis, Elvis Presley, F. Scott Fitzgerald), and an area in which [...]

Read the full article →

William LoganMadame X

October 6, 2013

William Logan is often thought of as a critic first and a poet second, so his verse doesn’t get nearly the attention it deserves. In Logan’s poetry we don’t find the spooky discursiveness or the back-breaking effort to avoid lyrical expression we often encounter in contemporary poetry. Instead, what we find is a poet who [...]

Read the full article →

Paul Killebrew Ethical Consciousness

September 23, 2013

In Paul Killebrew‘s latest book of poems, Ethical Consciousness (Canarium Books, 2013), the speaker inhabits the everyday structures of our lives, but responds to those structures in an entirely uncommon way. For Killebrew, his severe poetic lines (which he explains the origins of), once latched together create poems that act like tire-irons that the poet [...]

Read the full article →