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What It Means To Be Avant-Garde

by David Antin

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[Antin's] 'talk pieces'... belong somewhere among a standup comedian's rap, a storyteller's fable and a formal lecture.

—Michael Davidson, New York Times Book Review

what it means to be avant-garde is David Antin’s third collection of "talk poems” published by New Directions. As in his earlier talking at the boundaries (1976) and tuning (winner of the 1984 PEN/Los Angeles Literary Award for Poetry), Antin’s brilliant improvised disquisitions at once challenge readers’ expectations even as they instruct and entertain. A poet, performance artist, art critic, and professor of visual arts, Antin, since his college days in New York in the ’50s, has been at the cutting edge of the avant-garde. The avant-garde? Yes, if by this is meant not an image of fashion but the place where art and life intersect, imparting to both a greater urgency––if is meant the place where experience and knowledge find their deepest expression, where the idea of a universal language can find shape, where the price of art is life itself, where the fringe is the very center of existence.

What It Means To Be Avant-Garde

Poetry by David Antin

published January 1st, 2001