What It Means to Be Avant-Garde

David Antin, Author
David Antin, Author New Directions Publishing Corporation $15.95 (207p) ISBN 978-0-8112-1238-0
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Asked to participate in a poetry festival, Antin ( Talking at the Boundaries ) tells the caller: ``i / dont read anymore i talk and that whatever i happened to say / that was my poetry.'' This is his third collection of transcribed oral pieces, and the method has worn thin. To be sure, he attempts to gear his autobiographical monologue to each audience. But the focus of these pieces, which average at 30 pages, quickly strays to anything and everything: his Manhattan apartment, his job translating scientific texts, the rise and cost of living. Pompous and egotistical, he ends up hurling words in the general direction of his listeners. Spread randomly on the printed page, his words unfortunately capture all the drone of performance: prosaic, unpunctuated, refusing capitalization. One assumes, from Antin's prefatory remarks to each poem, that this book collects only his most successful monologues. Frankly, it's hard to tell. (June)
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