HON293C: Literary Scandals and Controversies

An archived version of a 2007 NCSU course blog

Kenneth Goldsmith: Day

The book I mentioned in class today, Day, is by Kenneth Goldsmith, and it was published in 2003, and it’s 840 pages long. Here’s a link to Day at WorldCat (WorldCat allows you to find books at libraries) and a link to Day at Amazon.

The book is an example of “concrete poetry,” which can overlap with the “cento” form we’ve been reading about in Saint-Amour’s work. Concrete poetry is poetry that relies on typography, formatting, for a great deal of its meaning; I’m pretty sure I’ve encountered other concrete poems that copy something exactly and simply reformat it to make a point. “Found poetry” is even more similar to the cento; it consists of a rearrangement of lines found elsewhere (such as in spam headers) into a poem.

You might also be interested in this brief article on Day. The author, Doug Nufer, writes, “After all the fuss our culture makes over creativity and originality, Goldsmith can’t resist questioning what all the fuss is about.” A good question. Nufer also wonders whether the New York Times will pursue Goldsmith for copyright infringement — if they did, I can’t find any evidence of it. I bet they didn’t, not because he didn’t commit infringement, but because they don’t particularly care that he did.

Even more interesting is Goldsmith’s own explanation of why he wrote Day (and I’m deliberately sticking to the word “wrote” here, not “typed”).

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