Anselm Berrigan - Writing Workshops

"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

Anselm Berrigan's books of poetry include Loading, a collaborative book with painter Jonathan Allen (Brooklyn Arts Press, 2013); Skasers, with John Coletti (Flowers & Cream, 2012);  Notes on Irrelevance (Wave Books, 2011);  Free Cell (City Lights, 2009), Some Notes on My Programming (Edge Books, 2006), Zero Star Hotel (Edge Books, 2002) and Integrity & Dramatic Life (Edge Books, 1999). Primitive State, a book-length poem, is forthcoming in 2014 from Edge Books. With Alice Notley and Edmund Berrigan he co-edited The Collected Poems of Ted Berrigan (University of California Press, 2005), and Selected Poems of Ted Berrigan (University of California Press, 2011).  Berrigan is currently the Poetry Editor of The Brooklyn Rail, an arts and culture monthly in NYC.  As a member of the Subpress publishing collective, he has published The Selected Poems of Steve Carey (2009) and Your Ancient See Through by Hoa Nguyen (2002). He was the Artistic Director at The Poetry Project at Saint Mark's Church from 2003 - 2007, and is currently Co-Chair of Writing at the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts at Bard College.  The Poetry Foundation


Content is a Glimpse

In this course we will collect and practice a range of techniques based on splicing, expanding, upending, reconfiguring and re-sounding previously generated material of our own, as well as material produced on the spot. The idea is to:  A) get a closer look at what poems do by veering away from our internalized notions of standard practice, whatever they may be;  B) build a bigger bag of tricks; and  C) address our own relationships with language in order to recognize the loops and hurdles our decision-making processes create for us when we write.  The title is taken from a statement in an interview made by the painter Willem De Kooning: “Content is a glimpse of something, an encounter like a flash. It’s very tiny....”  The possibility of writing towards such flashes, and the accumulation of them as a record of consciousness put to tremulous, if sturdy, form is one avenue we’ll explore, along with unautomatic fast writing, moving laterally off preselected titles, collaging from one’s own shards of materials, spinning the notebook, replacement of self with voice and vice versa, and other curiosities.  Four 2.5-hour workshops


Loading from Brooklyn Art Press   “Berrigan wrote a new suite of poems for the project, which progressed in various ways (idea exchange and conversation over email, and multiple studio visits) and now exists in multiple formats as well, with an entirely new body of work from Allen–paintings and works on paper–created over the last year and a half.  We want it!” --Poetry Foundation

“Independent literary and art-book publisher Brooklyn Arts Press, which published Allen’s most recent collection of paintings and collage, Superstructure, in 2010, will release an eponymous book of the LOADING collaboration, featuring Berrigan’s poems and reproductions of Allen’s artwork, this month.” --Poets & Writers Magazine

“Who’s crowd-sourcing, funding, and promoting who?  What constitutes the latest media buy-out, or sell-out, by inflated multinationals, and to what form of state or private surveillance are you prey? What Berrigan most wants to know, and, inLoading, finds (however insufficient or bitter–“We like a bilingual hinge about now / you can get some suckle from a / local armoirery too, goddamnit”–a discovery) is his own hunger, admittance of apocalyptic boredom, and complicity in the systems (disaster capitalism, language) to which there appears to be no “outside” — subsumptions both formal and real, subverted only by the sliver of hope in art’s autonomy from “same.” Berrigan and Allen hold up a mirror up to the reader, demanding an answer to the question of what script you’re following–Oedipal, neoliberal, hetero/queer, marital–and who’s funding you.” --Coldfront Magazine


Free Cell from City Lights  

"Free Cell is the latest collection of free-verse poetry from writing instructor and dedicated poet Anselm Berrigan. The words themselves revel in the freedom to assume any shape in this smoothly rolling collection of musings and insights. The natural flow of the verbal rhythm serves as the perfect counterpoint to the thought-provoking commentary in this excellent collection. 'Frailty puckers up to present': Frailty puckers up to present / gibberish in the agri-fab / spamways, helicopter can’t / swim, can’t junk tribal / penance for living off natty / whims so many pairs of / pants deny in fever’s dash. // The routine bites hard, ooze / a rapt factory heir teething / sway, ye olde time cleaners / spun off a granted project / of abeyance in the deep / trim that art savors, bent- / like, creaming dabbles.’"—James A. Cox, The Midwest Book Review

"[Berrigan] digests and mercilessly composts an endless variety of speech, with an excellent ear for the comedy of the banal—the sounds of corporate brainstorming sessions, rich people, even the unsympathetic reader. . . When he writes 'I like moving / your careful parts about,' he must be addressing Language, and reading this poem one gets the impression Berrigan may go on moving her parts indefinitely, as he follows the ominous momentum of these poems ‘Back to the brink, as ever.’" — Julia Powers, The Brooklyn Rail


Photo: from the collection of the Museo de Arte Prehispánico de México Rufino Tamayo