Required Reading


November 2011

This Month's Featured Title

Notes From Irrelevance

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Notes From Irrelevance
by Anselm Berrigan

Anselm Berrigan’s fifth book, Notes from Irrelevance, is a book-length poem that can be easily taught in any program or class that takes an interest in the history of contemporary American poetry. This book is very much about being a poet and artist in the 21st century, and Berrigan draws—sometimes freely, sometimes wrenchingly—from his own life as well as from his influences (influences, he points out, too numerous to mention), but which include friendships and relationships forged while he was the artistic director for The Poetry Project at St. Marks Church for five years in the mid-2000s, as well as the obvious influence of his parents, celebrated poets Alice Notley and the late Ted Berrigan (his stepfather was the late poet and prose writer Douglas Oliver). As a poem written in the form of a letter, Notes from Irrelevance is an overt example of New York School Personism, a strand of associative poetry prominent in contemporary poetic practice. It’s also a love letter, an ars poetica, a generous and intimate meander through the mind of what it means to be a poet, a citizen, a member of the living, breathing, dying world in the age of information. For those interested in the relationships between form and content, in musicality, or in exploring literary influence, this is a linguistically- and syntactically-charged rendezvous, as intimate and generous as a conversation with a dear friend.  Young poets will enjoy it for the way in which Berrigan mixes the often gentle and moving language of memory and place with humor, buzzy pop references and striking socio-political commentary, while students of contemporary poetry will also find further depth and interest in Berrigan’s dazzling and wide-ranging cartography of the American poetic landscape.

About the Author

Anselm Berrigan is the author of five books of poetry, most recently, Notes from Irrelevance (Wave Books, 2011). Other books include Free Cell (City Lights Books, 2009), Some Notes on My Programming (Edge, 2006) and Zero Star Hotel (Edge, 2002). 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 forthcoming 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, and also currently teaches writing at Pratt Institute and Brooklyn College. He was a New York State Foundation for the Arts fellow in Poetry for 2007, and has received two grants from the Fund for Poetry. He lives in New York City, where he grew up, with his wife, the poet Karen Weiser, and their two children.

Other Titles in Poetry
Free Cell 50 American Plays (Poems) Sudden Dog Blood Dazzler

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