My Way: Speeches and Poems


In My Way, (in)famous language poet and critic Charles Bernstein deploys a wide variety of interlinked forms—speeches and poems, interviews and essays—to explore the place of poetry in American culture and in the university. Sometimes comic, sometimes dark, Bernstein's writing is irreverent but always relevant, "not structurally challenged, but structurally challenging."

Addressing many interrelated issues, Bernstein moves from the role of the public intellectual to the poetics of scholarly prose, from vernacular modernism to idiosyncratic postmodernism, from identity politics to the resurgence of the aesthetic, from cultural studies to poetry as a performance art, from the small press movement to the Web. Along the way he provides "close listening" to such poets as Charles Reznikoff, Laura Riding, Susan Howe, Ezra Pound, Allen Ginsberg, and Gertrude Stein, as well as a fresh perspective on L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E, the magazine he coedited that became a fulcrum for a new wave of North American writing.

In his passionate defense of an activist, innovative poetry, Bernstein never departs from the culturally engaged, linguistically complex, yet often very funny writing that has characterized his unique approach to poetry for over twenty years. Offering some of his most daring work yet—essays in poetic lines, prose with poetic motifs, interviews miming speech, speeches veering into song—Charles Bernstein's My Way illuminates the newest developments in contemporary poetry with its own contributions to them.

"The result of [Bernstein's] provocative groping is more stimulating than many books of either poetry or criticism have been in recent years."—Molly McQuade, Washington Post Book World

"This book, for all of its centrifugal activity, is a singular yet globally relevant perspective on the literary arts and their institutions, offered in good faith, yet cranky and poignant enough to not be easily ignored."—Publishers Weekly

"Bernstein has emerged as postmodern poetry's sous-chef of insouciance. My Way is another of his rich concoctions, fortified with intellect and seasoned with laughter."—Timothy Gray, American Literature


A Defense of Poetry
The Revenge of the Poet-Critic, or The Parts Are Greater Than the Sum of the Whole
Thelonious Monk and the Performance of Poetry
An Interview with Manuel Brito
Solidarity Is the Name We Give to What We Cannot Hold
What's Art Got to Do with It?: The Status of the Subject of the Humanities in an Age of Cultural Studies
A Test of Poetry
The Book as Architecture
Dear Mr. Fanelli
An Interview with Hannah Mockel-Rieke
I Don't Take Voice Mail: The Object of Art in the Age of Electronic Technology
Weak Links (on Hannah Weiner)
Again Eigner
Frame Lock
"Passed by Examination": Paragraphs for Susan Howe
The Value of Sulfur
Shaker Show
Gertrude and Ludwig's Bogus Adventure
Introjective Verse
Poetics of the Americas
Unzip Bleed
Lachrymose Encaustic / Abrasive Tear
Stein's Identity
Provisional Institutions: Alternative Presses and Poetic Innovation
Pound and the Poetry of Today
Inappropriate Touching
Robin on His Own (on Robin Blaser)
Water Images of The New Yorker
The Response as Such: Words in Visibility
From an Ongoing Interview with Tom Beckett
Explicit Version Number Required
Hinge Picture (on George Oppen)
Reznikoff's Nearness
An Autobiographical Interview
Beyond Emaciation
Riding's Reason
Whose He Kidding
Unrepresentative Verse (on Ginsberg and Eliot)
Poetry and [Male?] Sex
Close Listening: Poetry and the Performed Word
Taps [In memoriam Eric Mottram]
Warning - Poetry Area: Publics under Construction
The Republic of Reality
Notes and Acknowledgments

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