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.