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About this poet

Born in New York City on February 1, 1932, David Antin was educated at City College of New York, where he studied science and languages, and New York University, where he studied linguistics and received an M.A.

An experimentally driven poet, Antin used found text, or juxtapositions of different kinds of texts, to create new linguistic and philosophical meanings in his early published work. In the late 1960s, Antin’s work often took the form of "talk poems," which were improvised pieces that he would perform extemporaneously. This process allowed Antin to be inventive, while also subverting the monotony of the "standardized" poetry reading. The poems themselves were often motivated by the location of the reading and the attendant audience. These poems were often recorded and some semblance of the original spoken texts were transcribed and published in Antin’s poetry collections.

Antin has published over ten books of poetry, including the talk-poem books Talking (Kulchur Foundation, 1972) and Talking at the Boundaries (New Directions, 1976), as well as a novel, an autobiography, and a conversation with Charles Bernstein. He has also written a great deal of critical essays, some of which, including an influential essay on the avant-garde, have been translated into Slovak and Hungarian.

An art critic and visual/media artist as well as a poet, Antin also published essays and gave art talks at such institutions as the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Sorbonne and the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles, where served as a Fellow. Some of Antin’s later visual media work was in filmmaking, notably, a series of "Micro-Films," which are slide sequences of words and images that accumulate to create a very short film.

He received numerous honors and awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities. He received the PEN Los Angeles Award for Poetry in 1984.

Antin taught in the experimental visual arts department at the University of California at San Diego, beginning in 1968. He lived in San Diego with his wife, filmmaker and performance and installation artist, Eleanor Antin. He passed away on October 12, 2016.

Selected Bibliography

Definitions (Caterpillar Press, 1967)
Code of Flag Behavior (Black Sparrow Press, 1968)
Meditations (Black Sparrow Press, 1971)
Talking (Kulchur Foundation, 1972)
Talking at the Boundaries (New Directions, 1976)
Tuning (New Directions, 1984)
Selected Poems: 1963-1973 (Sun & Moon Press, 1991)
What It Means to Be Avant-Garde (New Directions, 1993)
i never knew what time it was (University of California Press, 2005)
How Long Is the Present: Selected Talk Poems of David Antin (University of New Mexico Press, 2014)

Radical Coherency: Selected Essays on Art and Literature, 1966 to 2005 (University of Chicago Press, 2011)
A Conversation with David Antin (with Charles Bernstein) (Granary Books, 2002)
After the War: A Long Novel with Few Words (Black Sparrow Press, 1973)

6th separation meditation

it appears whole
it has been
thought of
as good
not reasoned out
he uses
he is bound
to a state
he has recognized
even if the description is a delusion
it is worth while to speak of logic
it depends on knowledge
to translate it
suggests conflict
which is 
in the word
it would seem
the more formal
the meaning seems to be
the more
from the center of your being
that feeling
that nothing
either for me or my friend
the conjecture
this meaning
or material
is applied at the end
as the element
of commanding value
in contrast with joy
which is not of its essence
it is sometimes
something specially concerned
in conduct
the true interest
the interest of true self
is mad
in this state
he is confronted by the rich
if you take a low view of politics
you will degrade yourself
see how things are going in the capital!
the senator
the soul's moral equipment
is imperfect
the point seems to be
this indignity
the educated man
is untrained
to complete the sense
the managers
the schools
taking cognizance of things
the community 
its limitations
its hard circumstances
the insolence of the rich
all acts are appropriate
to the circumstances

From Meditations. Copyright © 1971 by David Antin. Reprinted with permission of Black Sparrow Press.

From Meditations. Copyright © 1971 by David Antin. Reprinted with permission of Black Sparrow Press.

David Antin

David Antin

A poet, visual media artist, critic and essayist, David Antin has published over ten books of poetry and critical essays, and has lived and taught in San Diego, CA since 1968.

by this poet

            and i was thinking about this while i was flying
 toward iowa and thinking about how everyone was going to be
trying to locate the avant-garde      and about how almost
 everyone was going to agree that it would involve either
shocking or making it new      and and that i was supposed to be
         about two years ago elly and i decided we needed a new mattress 
or maybe elly decided it    because i didnt pay much attention to the 
               we had an old mattress wed had it for years and the salesman
 wed bought it from had assured us it would last us a lifetime    and it
            but i wondered what i would talk about      because
 here in southern california youre never really sure when
spring begins      i mean the experience of spring      the
 vernal equinox is one thing      but spring is something else
      and ive been living out here twenty years and i cant