File Under: You Couldn’t Make Up Something This Stupid….
This past weekend, at a conference called Interrupt 3 at Brown University, poet Kenneth Goldsmith read Michael Brown’s St. Louis County autopsy report as a poem. Goldsmith is known for his conceptual, “uncreative writing” practices, which involve working exclusively with preexisting texts — altering them, remixing them, appropriating and repurposing them without credit to the original sources. This was the substance of his performance on Friday night in Providence: he read a remixed and slightly altered version of the official autopsy report for Brown, the teenager killed by police in Ferguson, Missouri, last summer. Goldsmith called his new poem “The Body of Michael Brown.”
Note that this idiocy arrives under the imprimatur of a major American university, demonstrating yet again that Academe likes to prove it can swallow anything that pretends to be New. The sad irony of Michael Brown’s murder being “poeticized” at Brown University is perhaps worth mentioning.
All that said, don’t skip the article. I know of no better delineation of poetic corruption, and the outrage expressed against Goldsmith and his “concept” is heartening.