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Hardcover | $36.95 Trade | £27.95 | ISBN: 9780262012249 | 428 pp. | 8.5 x 11 in | 15 b&w illus.| March 2006

Language to Cover a Page

The Early Writings of Vito Acconci


Pioneering conceptual artist Vito Acconci began his career as a poet. In the 1960s, before beginning his work in performance and video art, Acconci studied at the Iowa Writers Workshop and published poems in journals and chapbooks. Almost all of this work remains unknown; much of it appeared in the self-produced magazines of the Lower East Side's mimeo revolution, and many other pieces were never published. Language to Cover a Page collects these writings for the first time and not only shows Acconci to be an important experimental writer of the period, but demonstrates the continuity of his early writing with his later work in film, video, and performance.Language to Cover a Page documents a key moment in the unprecedented intersection of artists and poets in the late 1960s--as seen in the Dwan Gallery's series of "Language" shows (1967-1970) and in Acconci's own journal 0 to 9. Indeed, as Acconci moved from the poetry scene to the art world, his poetry became increasingly performative while his artwork was often structured and motivated by linguistic play.Acconci's early writing recalls the work of Samuel Beckett, the deadpan voice of the nouveau roman, and the jump cuts and fraught permutations of the nouvelle vague. Poems in Language to Cover a Page explore the materiality of language ("language as matter and not ideas," as Robert Smithson put it), the physical space of the page, and the physicality of source texts (phonebooks, thesauruses, dictionaries). Other poems take the space of the page as an analogue to performance space or implicate the poem in a network of activity (as in his "Dial-a-Poem" pieces). Readers will find Acconci's inventive and accomplished poetry as edgy and provocative as anything published today.

About the Author

Conceptual artist Vito Acconci is known for his work in performance and video art.

About the Editor

Craig Dworkin, Professor in the English Department at the University of Utah, is the author of Reading the Illegible and the editor of Language to Cover a Page: The Early Writings of Vito Acconci (MIT Press).


“"Before he became famous as video, performance, and multimedia artist, Vito Acconci considered himself to be a poet -- a designer, so to speak, of printed pages. His fascinating poetic experiments, most of them previously unpublished, take ordinary, colloquial language and apply both formal constraints and Wittgensteinian propositions to their articulation. Decades ahead of its time, the writing Craig Dworkin has lovingly assembled and edited for this collection uncannily anticipates our own verbivocovisual experiments: here 'delay' becomes revelation!"--Marjorie Perloff, author of *Wittgenstein's Ladder: Poetic Language and the Strangeness of the Ordinary*”
“"This is not just another anthology of Surrealist writings.  Mary Ann Caws, one of the experts in the field, has put together a highly individual, deeply personal, and wonderfully idiosyncratic collection of writers and visual artists she takes to be ‘surrealist,’ from such classic figures as André Breton and Louis Aragon to artists usually classified otherwise, such as Kurt Schwitters, William Carlos Williams, and--yes--Rrose Sélavy, who has her very own section. Lavishly and superbly illustrated and wonderfully translated, Surrealist Poets and Painters forces us to rethink the movement and define it more broadly.  This is at once a scholarly collection and a work of art in its own right."--Marjorie Perloff, author of *Wittgenstein's Ladder: Poetic Language and the Strangeness of the Ordinary*Please note: The first “the” in the endorsement is italicized. Acute accents appear over the “e” in “Andre” and the “e” in “Selavy.””
“"This fascinating, meticulously documented study of Pound's two unpublished Radio Operas, *The Testament of Francois Villon* and *Cavalcanti*, casts a remarkably wide net. It chronicles Pound's relation to the new medium of radio from his Futurist and Vorticist experiments to the moment of his notorious Rome broadcasts, all the while considering the larger relationship between avant-garde intermedia and the new technologies."--Marjorie Perloff, author of *Wittgenstein's Ladder: Poetic Language and the Strangeness of the Ordinary*”
“"How did the avant-garde of the New York Secession, the movement spearheaded by the brilliant photographer, editor, gallery director, and impresario Alfred Stieglitz, look to its own practitioners and their audiences? Jay Bochner's fascinating and lavishly illustrated documentary study casts its 'American lens' on key scenes when modernist poets and visual artists from Williams and Stein to O'Keefe and Stieglitz himself were changing our cultural and aesthetic landscape. The appraisal of the Stieglitz circlethat emerges is as surprising as it is absorbing. A great read!"--Marjorie Perloff, author of *Wittgenstein's Ladder: Poetic Language and the Strangeness of the Ordinary*Please note: The third sentence may be omitted for space reasons.”