paper trail

The colonial aesthetics of conceptual poetry?

Kenneth Goldsmith

Last Friday, the poet Kenneth Goldsmith—known for what he calls “uncreative writing”—read Michael Brown’s autopsy report, altered “for poetic effect,” at Brown University. Goldsmith has since been widely criticized for, among other things, appropriating a text that he had no rights to and being tacky. Goldsmith’s self-defense amounted to the suggestion that he’s been doing this sort of appropriation for a very long time; among his books of poetry, for example, is Seven American Deaths and Disasters, a transcription of quotes from reports of national tragedies, including the shooting of JFK. Goldsmith retweeted many of the criticisms leveled at him. What he has not tweeted is a response from the anonymous group Mongrel Coalition Against Gringpo, which indicts the “colonial aesthetics” of conceptual art generally: “We are not here gleefully, we are here unhinged. We are distraught that it required the body of Mike Brown to push some poets into questioning the “practice” and “theory” behind current self-declared “conceptualist” poetry. We won’t forget that it takes bodies to make you consider your allegiances.”

The New York Times is adding twenty new online opinion writers. According to Capital New York, most have signed short-term contracts and will be writing once a month. The roster includes the novelists Jennifer Weiner, Lydia Millet, and Héctor Tobar, as well as Judith Shulevitz, Roxane Gay, and Sandeep Jauhar.

The Emperor Franzen Twitter account, which made fun of Jonathan Franzen by impersonating him, has been suspended. Twitter suggested that the account holder, Andrew Shafer, change it to “@fakefranzen” to be more clear that it was, well, fake; Shafer declined. If you need a funny lit-world Twitter to follow instead, Shafer recommends @GuyInYourMFA.

A new version of the Times style guide, available from Three Rivers Press, shows all the changes that have been made to the guide since 1999. Most of the updates have to do with the internet. For example, “friend”: “Do not use as a verb, as in friended, except for special effect when writing about social media.”

The Guardian, CNN International, the Financial Times, and Reuters have banded together to pool ad space as a way of fighting against the ad dollars of larger corporations such as Google, Microsoft, and Facebook. The alliance, which they’re calling Pangea, will give brands access to a combined 110 million online readers.