Art and Theory

The poet and the philosopher.

Are you making an argument or a metaphor? Is this poetry or philosophy?

Neither and both. Are you saying I have to choose? I thought this was a creative writing class.

I call it creative reading.

Do poets read theory differently than theorists read poetry?

Our purposes are different.

Do you read theory?

Of course, but to no theoretical end.


I am not looking to figure anything out.

Why then?

Why else? For material. For art making.


Adapted from a portion of “Poetry, Community, Movement: A Conversation” between Charles Bernstein, Ann Lauterbach, Jonathan Monroe and Bob Perelman, which appeared in Diacritics vol. 26, no. 3/ 4 (Fall/ Winter 1996), accessed on JSTOR.

In Passing

Overheard between dreamers.

You look cold. Here’s a bonfire. I’ve been carrying in around in my chest all this time. 

You sure?

Take it. Really, I have no use for it but this.

Thanks. I keep falling into wells.

But you always climb out, yes?

Yes, but wet and cold.

I am trying to be more of a tree, really. But the fire keeps getting in the way.

Hmmm. How?

I mean to put down roots and draw some order from––everything, which is too much.

That is a lot.

But at the top, see, there’s the crown. The leaves. If I get it right, I could be a sort of mediator between the soil and the leaves.


Here. Check this out. It’s my first clear vision of reality.

Um. It looks different. Not like any reality I’ve seen. 

That’s kind of the point. 


Inspired by this feature in Daedalus: Statements and Documents: Artists on Art and Reality, on Their Work, and on Values (Winter 1960).