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Notes from Irrelevance

By Anselm Berrigan
Publication Date: September 1, 2011

ISBN# 9781933517544 (5x7.5 80pp, paper and cloth)

  • I at some point decided 
    to be—or became, 
    understanding later— 
    influenced by, potentially,

    This generous book-length poem is an investigation of the author’s unique personal history as it entwines with his present role as poet, citizen, and “one of the six billion-plus.

  • Notes is a stunning statement to a world that has made artifacts of absolutes...
    Michael Brodeur, The Boston Globe

    As a poem addressed to you as much as to anyone, these Notes from Irrelevance are in their fierceness finally, deeply relevant.
    Roy Scranton, Boston Review

    Notes From Irrelevance is a long weave of sentence shimmers with influences of someone who has read and absorbed a rich range, from classics to the most experimental, making each phrasing kinetic with questions about the way he has experienced sound and the sight of letters. 
    Barbara Berman, The Rumpus

    This single stanza, book-length poem is a compilation of such linguistically rich and syntactically varied sentences. Discursive like much of Berrigan’s work, the poem meanders through a day in the life (or perhaps a week or longer), capturing the essence of what life is like for the author, who self-identifies as “currently one / of the six billion-plus.” And though there are autobiographical moments specific to the author, the poem speaks to a wider experience too—to what it’s like to be alive and thinking in America today...
    Gina Myers, New Pages

    Berrigan is always in control–of the line, of the sentence, of the digressions–all in attempt to show that poetry is not a space for tidy representation, but a sprawling performance of thought and experience, a body of vocabularies.
    Nick Sturm, Coldfront Magazine

    How Berrigan can be sad, silly, revelatory, awkward, and brilliantly dismissive in a single long sentence of poetry is his secret. Even narrating a simple stroll through an old neighborhood after canceling a class is inflected with a protean beauty most poets wouldn't dream of trying to convoke in such skeining detail.
    Joshua Marie Wilkinson, West Branch Wired

    Stirring cosmic observations and succinct “micro-meanings” in the same pot, Berrigan creates a single poem that reads like the manifesto of a poet who would never admit he’s writing one...The poem serves as a snapshot of the complexity of day-to-day life, 2011-style.
    Publishers Weekly 

    Notes from Irrelevance reminds me of those movie scenes where the hero has seconds to defuse a ticking bomb by touching two wires together, but isn’t sure which the right ones are. The wires here are the twisting, tensile lines, like the seven-clause stunner that opens the poem; the bomb is the urgency of the poet’s self-interrogation as it works its way through memory, family history, friendships, anxieties, and “uncodable degrees of grief”
    Rodney Koeneke, Poetry Project Newsletter #230 

  • Anselm Berrigan is the author of seven books of poetry: Come In Alone (Wave Books, May 2016), Primitive State (Edge, 2015), Notes from Irrelevance (Wave Books, 2011), Free Cell (City Lights Books, 2009), Some Notes on My Programming (Edge, 2006), Zero Star Hotel (Edge, 2002), and Integrity and Dramatic Life (Edge, 1999). He is also co-author of two collaborative books: Loading, with visual artist Jonathan Allen (Brooklyn Arts Press, 2013), and Skasers, with poet John Coletti (Flowers & Cream, 2012). His chapbooks include Pregrets (Vagabond Press, 2014), and Sure Shot (Overpass, 2013).  He is the current poetry editor for The Brooklyn Rail, and co-editor with Alice Notley and Edmund Berrigan of The Collected Poems of Ted Berrigan (U. California, 2005) and the Selected Poems of Ted Berrigan (U. California, 2011). A member of the subpress publishing collective, he has published Selected Poems of Steve Carey (2009) and Your Ancient See Through by Hoa Nguyen (2002). From 2003-2007 he was Artistic Director of The Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church, where he also hosted the Wednesday Night Reading Series for four years. He is Co-Chair, Writing at the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts interdisciplinary MFA program, and also teaches part-time at Brooklyn College. He was awarded a 2015 Process Space Residency by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, and in 2014 he was awarded a Robert Rauschenberg Residency by the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation. He was a New York State Foundation for the Arts fellow in Poetry for 2007, and has received three grants from the Fund for Poetry. He lives in New York City, where he also grew up.

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