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Anselm Berrigan

What is poetry? (Just kidding, I know you know): Interviews from The Poetry Project Newsletter (1983–2009)

What is poetry? (Just kidding, I know you know): Interviews from The Poetry Project Newsletter (1983–2009)

Edited by Anselm Berrigan

  • The Poetry Project was founded in 1966 for the overlapping circles of poets in the Lower East Side of New York. These interviews from The Poetry Project Newsletter form a kind of conversation over time between some of the late 20th century's most influential poets and artists, who have come together in this legendary venue over the past 50 years.

  • A striking anthology of interviews that sheds light on one of the most iconic poetry institutions in New York City…An essential tour de force for poetry buffs.
    Kirkus Reviews

    Poet Anselm Berrigan has carefully curated a selection of these interviews between emerging and established writers to render a history of The Poetry Project. The critical and foundational thoughts of writers such as Charles North, Allen Ginsberg, Paul Schmidt, Kenneth Koch, Alice Notley, Ed Sanders, Bernadette Meyer, Fred Moten, and Ann Waldman punctuate the work. It’s because of these seminal thinkers that notions of Language Writing, praxis, conceptualism, and collaboration are understood as they are today.
    Michael Valinsky, Hyperallergic

    The playful title of Berrigan’s book suggests not only the importance of poetics, but that it is always a collective, highly personal, undertaking... that is, the new poetics conceives of poetry as an open field... In short, we get insight, if not a total picture, of the New York avant-garde. Beyond individual actors we get to know a community and an institution. It is a complex story told in many first persons; even though it is incomplete, it tells us much.
    William J. Harris, Jacket2

    Berrigan presents an idiosyncratic gathering, selecting interviews from a limited set of years—there’s the satisfying feeling that inclusion was determined solely by what most appealed to him personally. Rather than a comprehensive anthology, therefore, he offers more of an in-depth glimpse into the chummy archival lore behind the Poetry Project’s community engagement. Patrick James Dunagan, Rain Taxi

    I strongly recommend this book—it is well-edited (and/or perhaps the interviews originally were well-written) so that the prose flows; it is educational; it is interesting; in places it is funny; in places it’s gossipy (in a fun way); and it succeeds in presenting a profile of The Poetry Project that makes the reader applaud its existence.
    Eileen Tabios, Galatea Resurrects

  • Anselm Berrigan is the author of many books of poetry: Pregrets, (Black
    Square Editions, 2021), Something for Everybody, (Wave Books, 2018), 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 the editor of What is Poetry? (Just Kidding, I Know You Know): Interviews from the Poetry Project Newsletter (1983–2009) and 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). He was the poetry editor for The Brooklyn Rail from 2008 through 2023. With Alice Notley and Edmund Berrigan he co-edited The Collected Poems of Ted Berrigan (U. California, 2005) and the Selected Poems of Ted Berrigan (U. California, 2011). More recently, he co-edited Get The Money! Collected Prose of Ted Berrigan (City Lights, 2022) with Notley, Edmund Berrigan, and Nick Sturm. A member of the subpress publishing collective, he has published books by Hoa Nguyen, Steve Carey, Adam DeGraff, and Brendan Lorber.  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 teaches writing classes at Pratt Institute and Brooklyn College, and was a longtime Co-Chair in Writing at the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts interdisciplinary MFA program. Berrigan was granted an Individual Artists Award from the Foundation of Contemporary Arts in 2017, and was also awarded a 2015 Process Space Residency by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, and a Robert Rauschenberg Residency by the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation in 2014. 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.

Publication Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN# 9781940696393 (6.5x8.5 440pp, paperback)

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