Category Archives: Poetry

“The Active Voice: 12 Poems on Contemporary Art”

The June/July 2013 issue of Art in America featured a portfolio I edited of poems by 12 writers responding to works of contemporary art. It also includes my introduction, where I discuss  the changing relations between the worlds of poetry and art, and provide background for the poems in this mini-anthology. The oldest poem included  (the late Jim Brodey’s “Joan Mitchell”) is meant as a bridge to New York School Poetry.

Cover of Jim Brodey, Heart of the Breath: Poems 1979-1992, Hard Press, 1996, with Joan Mitchell's "Chord I" (1986).

Cover of Jim Brodey, Heart of the Breath: Poems 1979-1992, Hard Press, 1996, with Joan Mitchell’s “Chord I” (1986).

The Active Voice: 12 Poems on Contemporary Art

Poets – Artists included:

Kevin Young – Jean-Michel Basquiat; Norma Cole – Hélio Oiticica; Jim Brodey – Joan Mitchell; Mei-mei Berssenbrugge – Bruce Nauman; Mary Jo Bang – Doris Salcedo; Clayton Eshleman – Leon Golub; Mónica de la Torre – Dorothea Tanning; Marjorie Welish; Vincent Katz – John Moore; Christopher Stackhouse; Kenneth Goldsmith – Damien Hirst; Charles Bernstein – Amy Sillman

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Collaborative poem-painting inspired by LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy

Painting as a Nonprofessional Experiment (2014, latex on canvas, 8 by 6 feet) is a painting by Heather Bause that revises a poem by Raphael Rubinstein that itself is a slightly edited (“poem” replacing “band”) transcription of an interview with James Murphy about his band LCD Soundsystem.

Painting (not Poetry)_small reproduction printing image copy



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Reading of “A Geniza” in Houston, April 10, 2016



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Poem about The Gun Club’s Jeffrey Lee Pierce

From my unpublished collection Dead Troubadours, this poem (composed exclusively of YouTube comments) about the late Jeffrey Lee Pierce, posted on the 20th anniversary of his death.


Jeffrey Lee Pierce


Who was in the band at this time?

On bass it’s his Japanese girlfriend (or wife?), Nori.

Romi Mori…im not sure if they ever got married..

i heard she broke his heart though..


my band supported them in 1984 here in Adelaide.

Always remember Patricia’s handshake

being firmer than JLP’s.

They had half of the Johnnys in the band

as a couple from Gun Club weren’t let into Oz.

Awesome…and sorely missed.


I meant that I met him in ’86 at Manchester gig

when he was promoting his solo album..

I was hungover for two days afterward!


I met jeffrey at the electric ballroom once,

he was really cool, a gent,

one of the great vocalists without being a real singer

if you know what I mean

all that in tune rubbish you get now,

underrated guitarist by a mile. RIP


Well he didn’t o.d. He died of a brain aneurysm,

and I believe he was trying really hard

to stay away from drugs when he died.

I heard he still drank a lot, but don’t you drink a lot too?

What’s your vice?


This was in 1986….We had access to the ‘rider’.

I mixed spirits that night…Not touched them since!


am sad he’s gone. Thank you for posting this.


they were my favourite favourite band in the eighties.

I used to put their records on at teeny-bopper parties

and clear the dancefloor.

Today’s kids seem a lot more receptive to this kind of stuff,

which is one of the sadder aspects of Pierce bowing out early.

He might have made some money at last.

Meanwhile, his friend Nick Cave

goes on to film scripts, model wife etc.

But he’s a cartoon character by comparison.

Pierce was the true genius, musically and lyrically.


Jeffrey Lee Pierce died of liver failure in the nineties

because of America’s disgrace of a healthcare system.


Jeff was a great guitarist.

I met him at the hammersmith arms

and we talked about the league of nations.

My dad was in a japanese camp and his gal was japanese.

We went to his flat and he talked alot about hendrix,

basically I think he was intrigued with playing off the 3rd or 4th

and looking to tear into all our blues.miss ya jeff…


Jeff is the best i had see the at Rodon club Athens in 1987 great!!!!


I wish I could have seen this band live.


He may not be as great as Ian Curtis but how is that relevant to anything?



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Poem Published in Harper’s Magazine

“Poem Begun on a Train” appears in the October, 2014, issue of Harper’s Magazine (accessible only to subscribers). It is also included in Privacy Policy: the Anthology of Surveillance Poetics (Black Ocean). As of October 2015, the poem is accessible on the Harper’s website, no subscription necessary.

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Reading at Dia Art Foundation

Raphael Rubinstein and Mónica de la Torre reading at Dia Art Foundation, Chelsea, October 14, 2014.

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“Through a Blue Field”

First published in 2007 as part of Ubuweb’s “Unpublishable” series, “Through a Blue Field” is a poem I wrote in the first half of the 1990s. The “M.B.” in the poem is guitarist Michael Bloomfield (1943-1981).

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Three Poems from Zing Magazine (1997)

In Zing #4 Max Henry edited a section titled “5 Contemporary Poets” which included three poems of mine.

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“On the New York-Hawley Bus”

First published in Big Bridge #12, an online literary magazine founded in 1997, this group of short poems also appeared in a series of limited editions from the French press Collectif Génération, including this version by Elena Berriolo.

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“Poem Beginning with a Line from Robert Ashley”

It was in the album notes to Ashley’s sublime Perfect Lives that I found the phrase that inspired this poem, published in the March 2014 issue of The Brooklyn Rail.

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