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About this poet

Born in 1961 in Freeport, New York, Kenneth Goldsmith attended the Rhode Island School of Design for sculpture and worked as a visual artist for about ten years before taking up conceptual poetry.

His most recent books include the trilogy Sports (Make Now Press, 2008), Traffic (Make Now Press, 2007), and The Weather (Make Now Press, 2005). These volumes consist of a transcribed broadcast of a baseball game, of traffic patterns, and of the weather, respectively. In 2003, he published Day (The Figures), in which he retyped the entirety of the New York Times newspaper from Friday, September 1, 2000, resulting in an 836-page tome.

His other collections include Head Citations (The Figures, 2002), Soliloquy (Granary Books, 2001), Fidget (Coach House Books, 2000), 6799 (zingmagazine press, 2000), No. 111 2.7.93–10.20.96 (Small Press Distribution, 1997), and 73 Poems (Permanent Press, 1993).

These works all follow Goldsmith's model of "uncreative writing." According to the poet, "The idea becomes a machine that makes the text...Uncreative writing is only good when the idea is good." Fidget, for example, which was originally commissioned by the Whitney Museum, is an attempt to record every movement he made during one full day, and Soliloquy is a transcription of everything the poet said during one full week.

Critic Marjorie Perloff has written that "Goldsmith works on the borders between 'poetry' and 'prose' and, more courageously, between poetry and 'not poetry,' not to mention the borders between 'literature' and 'art'."

Together with poets like Christian Bök, Craig Dworkin, and Caroline Bergvall, Goldsmith has established "Conceptual Poetics," which he describes as "a poetics of the moment, fusing the avant-garde impulses of the last century with the technologies of the present, one that...obstinately makes no claims on originality."

Goldsmith teaches at the University of Pennsylvania. He hosts a weekly radio show on WFMU and is the founder of UbuWeb, an online resource for avant-garde poetry and media. He lives in New York with artist Cheryl Donegan and their two sons.

Poem for Larry Craig

Kenneth Goldsmith

Am I going to have to fight you in court?

No. No. I'm not going to go to court unless you want me there.

I don't want to be in court either, OK?

I don't either.

All, um, um.. Here's the way it works, um, you'll you'll be released today, OK, OK?

Alright.

I I know I can I can bring you to jail but that's not my goal here. OK? I'm trying to...

Well, let's let's don't do that. You you...

I'm not going to bring you to jail.

You you solicited me, I mean...

OK. OK.

We're gonna get in...we're gonna get into that. We can get into that..

OK. But but there's two ways. Yes, you can, you can, uh, you can go to court and you can plead guilty...

Yeah.

...and there will be a fine and you don't have to explain anything at all...

Alright.

...and you'll be done. Or if you want to plead not guilty, ee, uh, and I I can't make these decisions for you.

No, no just tell me where I am because I'm not guilty and...Guys, I need to make this flight.

OK. OK. And then if you plead not guilty then will I have to come to court and testify, right? OK. One of two things. OK? Can I explain that first?

Yes.

OK. Um, uh, tell me your age real quick, OK?

Yes. 79(?)

Um, the date is, uh, 6-11-07 at 12:28 hours. Um...Mr. Craig?

Yes.

Alright. Uh, here we go, hun? You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in the court of law. You have the right to talk to a lawyer now or have one present...a lawyer present during questioning. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed to you at no cost. Do you understand each of these rights as I've explained them to you?

I do.

Do you wish to talk to us at this time?

I do.

OK, um, I just want to start off with, uh, your side of the story. OK, so, uh...

Well, I go into the bathroom here as I normally do. I'm a commuter too here.

OK.

I sit down, um, to go to the bathroom and, uh, you said our feet bumped. I believe they did, uh, because I reached down and scooted over and, um, the next thing I knew, under the bathroom divider comes a card that says police. Now, um...that's about as far as I can take it. I don't know of anything else. Uh, your foot came toward mine, mine came toward yours. Was that natural? I don't know. Did we bump? Yes. I think we did. You said so. I don't disagree with that.

OK. I don't want to get into a fisting match here...

We're not going to.

Good, uh...

I don't...uh, uh, uh, I am not gay. I don't do these kinds of things and I don't...

That doesn't matter. I don't care about sexual preference or anything like that—you can get your stuff back here—um, I don't care about sexual preference.

I know you don't. You're out to enforce the law.

Right.

But you shouldn't be out to entrap people here either.

This isn't entrapment.

Alright.

Um, you're skipping some parts here. But wha, what about your hand?

What about it? I reached down here by my foot like this. There was a piece of paper on the floor. I picked it up.

OK.

What about my hand?

Well, you're not being truthful with me. I'm kind of disappointed in you Senator. I'm really disappointed right now. OK. I'm not...just so you know. Just like everybody...

Yep...

...I I I treat with dignity, I try to pull them away from the situation and not embarrass them...

I appreciate that. And you did that after I stepped out of the stall.

And I will say that every person I've had so far has told me the truth. We've been respectful to each other and then they've gone on their way. I've never had to throw anybody in jail because everybody's been truthful to me.

I don't want you to take me to jail and I think...

I'm not gonna take you to jail if you'll be cooperative but I I'm not going to lie. I, I...

Did it come below the divider? Yes it did.

OK. Sir. We deal with people that lie to us every day.

I'm sure you do.

We deal with everyone like a gentlemen.

So do I.

I'm sure you do.

We deal with a lot of people that are very bad people. You're not a bad person.

No. I don't think so.

Yeah, I know, so, but what I'm telling you is that I don't want to be lied to.

OK.

OK? So, let's start over. You're gonna get out of here. You're gonna have to pay a fine and that'll be it. OK? And I don't call media. I don't do anything of that type of crap.

Fine.

OK?

Fine.

Alright. So let's start from the beginning. You're in the bathroom.

I went to the bathroom.

Then what did you do when you went in?

I stood beside the wall waiting for a stall to open. I got in the stall, sat down, and I started to go to the bathroom. Uh, did our feet come together? Apparently they did bump. Well, I don't dispute that.

OK, when I got out of the stall I know that...I noticed that other stalls were open. Was there any...

They were at the time. At the time I entered I I...At the time I entered I stood and waited.

OK.

They they were all busy, you know?

Were you looking at me while you were waiting? I could see your eyes. I could see you plant your fingers and look up.

Did I glance at your stall? I was glancing at a stall right beside yours waiting for a fellow to empty it.I saw him stand up. And therefore I thought it was gonna empty.

How long do you think you stood in front of that stall?

Oh, a minute or two at the most.

OK. When you went in the stall, then what?

I sat down.

Did you do anything with your feet?

Positioned them? I don't know. I don't know, at the time. I'm a fairly wide guy. I...

I understand.

I tend to spread my legs...

OK.

...when I lower my pants so they won't slide. OK? Did I slide them too close to yours? Did I...? I looked down once your foot was close to mine.

Yes.

Did we bump? Uh, you said so. I don't recall that but apparently we were close.

Yeah. Well, your foot did touch mine on my side of the stall.

Alright.

OK. And, then with the hand, um, how many times did you put your hand under the stall?

I I don't recall. I I remember reaching down once. There was a piece of toilet paper back behind me and I recall picking it up.

OK. Was your was your pa...palm down or up when you were doing that?

I don't recall.

OK. I recall your palm being up. OK?

Alright.

Let me pick a piece of paper up. Your palm would be down when you pick something up.

Yeah, it probably would be. I recall picking the paper up.

And I know it's hard to describe here on on tape but actually what I saw was your fingers come underneath the stall, so you're actually ta...touching the bottom of the stall.

I don't...I don't recall that. I don't believe I did that. I don't...I don't do those things.

I saw I saw your left hand and I could see...I could see the the gold wedding ring when when it went across. I could see that. You know I can. I can see...

Wait a moment. My left hand was over here...

I saw...there's a...

...and my right hand was next to you.

I could tell it was my, uh, I could tell it was your left hand because your thumb was positioned in a, uh, face-forward in a certain motion. Your thumb was on this side, not on this side.

Well, we could dispute that. I'm not going to fight you in court but I I reached down with my right hand to pick up the paper.

I'm telling you that I see that so I know it's your left hand. Also I could see a gold ring on this finger so it's obvious that it was the left hand.

Yeah, OK. My left hand was in the direct opposite of the stall from you.

OK.

You you travel through here frequently, sir?

I do, um, almost weekly.

Maybe you've been successful in these bathrooms before?

I go to that bathroom regularly.

Do you partake in any of other activity?

No, Absolutely not. I don't seek activity in bathrooms.

It's embarrassing.

Well it's embarrassing for both of us. I'm not going to fight you.

I know you're not going to fight me, but that's not the point. I would respect you and I still respect you, I don't disrespect you but I'm disrespected right now and I'm not trying to act like I have all kinds of power or anything but you're sitting here lying to a police officer!

Uh uh, well...I I I don't want...

It's not a judgment that came from somebody else! I'm being serious to this, OK? I'm trained for this and I know what I'm doing! And I saw you put your hand under there and you're gonna sit there...admit it!

I I put my hand down.

You put your hand and rubbed it on the bottom of the stall with your left hand...

But wait a moment!

...and I I'm not dumb. I can tell...

If I if I had turned sideways...that was the only way I could get my left hand over there.

Not that hard for me to reach all...from my hand to that. It's not that hard. It does happen every day up here now. OK?

Alright.

I'm just I'm just...I guess I'm just...I want to say I'm disappointed in you, mister. I just really am. I expected from the guy we get out of the hood that you...I mean, people vote for you!

Yes. They do and...

Unbelievable. Unbelievable!

I'm a respectable kind of person and I don't do these kind of...

Where's your respect right now, though?

But I didn't use my left hand. I reached down with my right hand like this just to pick up a piece of paper.

Was your gold ring on your right hand at any time today?

Of course not. Try to get it off. Look at it.

OK, then it was your left hand. I saw it with my own...

Alright. You saw something that didn't happen.

Embarrassing. Embarrassing. Alright. This is embarrassing! The date is 6-11-07 at 12:36 and we're done. OK?

This poem was previously published in the Green Integer Review.Copyright © 2007 by Kenneth Goldsmith. Reprinted with the permission of the author. All rights reserved.

This poem was previously published in the Green Integer Review.Copyright © 2007 by Kenneth Goldsmith. Reprinted with the permission of the author. All rights reserved.

Kenneth Goldsmith

Kenneth Goldsmith

Kenneth Goldsmith follows the model of "uncreative writing" in his work, which he describes as when "the idea becomes a machine that makes the text." 

by this poet

poem

E28 THE NEW YORK TIMES, FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 1, 2000

MAKING CHOICES

FINAL WEEKS

THROUGH SEPTEMBER 26

Anatomically Incorrect

How Movies

How Simple Can You Get?

Ideal Motif. Stieglitz, Weston,

Adams, and Callahan

Modern Living 2

New York Salon

The

poem

No. I'm not mad. We were just playing. Yeah. It was a joke. It was a joke. The recorder will stay on this art week. What? No. Just one week. Oh, is it time already for another laundry? Oh, we can take it over. It's no big deal. Remember the time we buried the dog in the laundry? Wasn't that cute? This might be the