Kenneth Goldsmith

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Kenneth Goldsmith

Born: 1961
Freeport, New York
Occupation: poet, critic
Nationality: American
Writing period: 1993 - present
Website: Kenneth Goldsmith, Electronic Poetry Center

Kenneth Goldsmith (born 1961) is an American poet. He is founding editor of UbuWeb, teaches Poetics and Poetic Practice at the University of Pennsylvania and is Senior Editor of PENNsound. He hosts a weekly radio show at WFMU and has published nine books of poetry notably Fidget (2000), Soliloquy (2001) and Day (2003). He is editor of I’ll be Your Mirror: The Selected Andy Warhol Interviews (2004). He resides in New York City with his wife, artist Cheryl Donegan.


  • 1 Life
  • 2 Conceptual Poetics and Poetic Practice
  • 3 Academic
  • 4 Radio, Sound and Collaborations
  • 5 Works
  • 6 Critical Writing
  • 7 External links


Goldsmith was born in Freeport, New York. He was trained as a sculptor at the Rhode Island School of Design and graduated with a B.F.A in 1984. Goldsmith worked for many years within the art world as a text-based artist and sculptor before breaking with the traditions of his practice to become a writer. [1]

Conceptual Poetics and Poetic Practice

Driven by a preoccupation with “Uncreativity as Creative Practice”, Goldsmith is essentially the habitual editor of one large project, contributing to both the study and practice of poetry as a writer, academic and as curator of the prolific archives at UbuWeb. His process, a series of writing and self–induced constraints has produced 600 pages of rhyming r phrases, sorted by syllables and alphabetized (No. 111 2.7.93-10.20.96, 1997); everything he said for a week (Soliloquy, 2001) every move his body made during a thirteen-hour period (Fidget, 1999); a year of transcribed weather reports (The Weather, 2005) and one day of The New York Times transcribed (Day, 2003). Goldsmith's practice embraces the performance of the writer as process and plagiarism as content. Extensive creative and critical responses to his work are archived at Kenneth Goldsmith, Electronic Poetry Center with several being consolidated in Open Letter: Kenneth Goldsmith and Conceptual Poetics (2005). Notable addresses of Goldsmith's poetry include those of the eminent critics Marjorie Perloff, Craig Dworkin, Sianne Ngai and Johanna Drucker and poets Bruce Andrews, Christian Bok, Darren Wershler-Henry, Christine Wertheim, and Caroline Bergvall. Poet and Critic Juliana Spahr asserts 'Kenneth Goldsmith is without a doubt the leading conceptual poet of his time' [2].


As a teacher at University of Pennsylvania, Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing, [3].Goldsmith’s syllabus includes Uncreative Writing [4] and Writing Through Art and Culture [5] in partnership with the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia. Class tools are appropriation, theft, stealing, plundering and sampling. Cheating, fraud and identity theft are all encouraged. For Goldsmith the classroom, is a free space into which ethical queries can be conducted in a safe environment. An in-depth article from UPenn's Daily Pennsylvanian discusses Goldsmith's pedagogy [6]. In addition, Goldsmith has also run a graduate seminar at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago entitled "Publishing as Project."

Radio, Sound and Collaborations

Since 1995, Goldsmith has been doing a weekly show on WFMU, the New Jersey-based freeform radio station, where Goldsmith assumes the broadcast name of Kenny G. The show is an extension of Goldsmith's writing experiments, his pedagogy and UbuWeb.

He has also had numerous collaborations with musicians and composers. In 1993, Goldsmith embarked on a collaboration with avant-garde vocalist Joan La Barbara, resulting in a CD and book 73 Poems (Permanent Press / Lovely Music).

In 1998, the Whitney Museum of American Art commissioned vocalist Theo Bleckmann to stage an interpretation of Fidget. [7]

In 2004, he released a CD with People Like Us (musician) called Nothing Special (Soleilmoon) and has done numerous radio performances with Vicki Bennett. [8]

In 2005, Goldsmith collaborated with guitarist Alan Licht to stage an evening length performance of The Weather, as well as excerpts from Fidget. Goldsmith has also collaborated with musician David Grubbs with texts from Fidget.

In 2006, was Goldsmith wrote the libretto for and performed in the TRANS-WARHOL, Chamber Opera based on his book I'll Be Your Mirror; The Andy Warhol Interviews , a collaboration with choreographer Nicolas Musin, composer Philippe Schoeller and Ensemble Alternance. The opera premiered at the Bâtiment des forces motrices in Geneva in March 2007.[9]

Goldsmith has written extensively on experimental music A Popular Guide to Unpopular Music and has curated numerous musical events and compact discs. He was a musical curator for the Whitney Museum of American Art's The American Century, Part 2, which included 73 Poems. In 2004, he curated a CD for the Sonic Arts Network in London called The Agents of Impurity. In 2006 he organized a CD for the Institute of Contemporary Arts in Boston called The Body is a Sound Factory. Also in 2006, he organized an 8 hour-long performance at The Sculpture Center (New York City) of Erik Satie's Vexations "Pianoless Vexations" (UbuWeb) for any instrument other than piano.

In October of 2007, a documentary film of Goldsmith's life and practice will be premiered at Shandy Hall in York,UK (where Goldsmith will hold a Poetry Reading at The ArtSpace, an art studio in the city centre), and in London.


  • No. 110 10.4.93-10.7.93 (Artists Museum, Lodz, Poland, 1993)
  • 73 Poems(1993), with Joan La Barbara (1994)
  • No. 109 2.7.93-12.15.93 (Bravin Post Lee, 1994)
  • No. Figures, 1997)
  • Gertrude Stein on Punctuation (Abaton Books, 2000)
  • Fidget(Coach House Books, 2000)
  • 6799 (zingmagazine, 2000)
  • Soliloquy(Granary Books, 2001)
  • Head Citations(The Figures, 2002)
  • Day (The Figures, 2003)
  • The Weather : Winter Spring Summer Fall (Make Now, Los Angeles, 2005)
  • Traffic (Make Now, Los Angeles, 2006)

Critical Writing

  • On Conceptual Poetics (The Poetry Foundation)
  • Being Boring
  • Uncreativity as Creative Practice
  • If It Doesn't Exist on the Internet, It Doesn't Exist
  • From (Command) Line to (Iconic) Constellation
  • Kenneth Goldsmith at the Electronic Poetry Center
  • Kenneth Goldsmith
  • Kenneth Goldsmith on PENNsound
  • Kenneth Goldsmith, Department of English, University of Pennsylvania
  • UPENN Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing
  • Kenny G's WFMU Homepage
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