Kenneth Goldsmith

Kenneth Goldsmith

Assume No Readership

This video presents a poet, who believes in uncreative writing and reads traffic reports to Barack Obama in the White House, calling it poetry. Meet Kenneth Goldsmith, who claims that “copyright doesn’t exist.”

Kenneth Goldsmith is anything but an ordinary poet. His poems are copied text from other sources such as traffic reports, a commentary track from a baseball game and an entire transcribed New York Times newspaper – all revolving around the same question: What can poetry possibly be?

The poetry of Goldsmith is vernacular, but also unreadable, such as his book ‘Day’ with its 900-page transcription of a newspaper. His work is about the ideas and discussions that it generates, rather than about reading the actual work.

“I am in love with creativity, I just don’t like what it has become”, says Goldsmith. This is why he is throwing plagiarism, boredom and uncreative writing back at creativity, with the hope of reviving it: “I am obliged as a poet to be as experimental as possible, because I have nothing to gain by playing it safe.” This uncreative approach to poetry has led Goldsmith as far as to the White House, where he read plagiarized traffic reports to the President of the United States, Barack Obama, who was clearly quite entertained.

Touching on the metaphysical and philosophical problems of poetry, Goldsmith concludes: “One of the great tragedies of poets is that they assume they are being read, and they are not. So why not assume there will be no readership and give great concepts to think about instead?”

Kenneth Goldsmith (b. 1961) is an American conceptual poet. He has published numerous books such as ‘Day’, ‘Seven American Deaths and Disasters’ and a New York Trilogy consisting of ‘Weather’ (2005), ‘Traffic’ (2007) and ‘Sports’ (2008). He also teaches uncreative writing at the University of Pennsylvania, where one of his classes in 2015 is the much debated ‘Wasting time on the internet’. Since 2013, Goldsmith has been a MoMA poet laureate.

Kenneth Goldsmith was interviewed by Pejk Malinovski in New York City, October 2014.

Camera: Pierce Jackson and Kasper Bech Dyg
Produced and edited by: Kasper Bech Dyg and Pejk Malinovski
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2014

Supported by Nordea-fonden

  • Dan Graham

    Advice to the Young

    “Don’t make art as a career,” says award-winning American artist Dan Graham. “Because that means you’re just doing the same boring things that you reacted against in the beginning.”

  • JAJA Architects

    Park'n'Play

    24 meters above sea level, with a view of Copenhagen’s harbour, sits a bright red playground atop a car park – a building that transforms our understanding of public space. JAJA Architects guide you through the Swiss army knife of parking facilities.

  • Karin Mamma Andersson

    Advice to the Young

    “If you think Rubens is crap, then don’t bother with him.” Swedish artist Karin Mamma Andersson advises young painters to learn their art history: “Focus on what you find interesting, but immerse yourself in it.”

  • 8 Artists

    on Water

    Water covers 70 per cent of the earth’s surface. “It’s always the same and it’s never the same,” says Finnish artist Elina Brotherus. Hear her, Olafur Eliasson, Bill Viola, Marina Abramović and four other artists on the vital substance.

  • Siri Hustvedt

    A Person Apart

    According to bestselling author Siri Hustvedt, the election of Donald Trump marks a new split in the population of the US. Hear Hustvedt on her political awakening, the biases in contemporary society and writing in challenging times.

  • Jonathan Monk

    An Original Twist

    “I’m sure even the cavemen copied the drawings of the guys from the next village and changed them a little bit.” Hear British conceptual artist Jonathan Monk’s view on the idea of originality: “Just embrace that you’re not. Or twist it so you can be.”

  • Imbolo Mbue

    Everybody Has a Story

    “The challenges of being black and working-class in America – my characters didn’t understand that and I didn’t either.” Meet Imbolo Mbue, author of ‘Behold the Dreamers’ – a novel about dreams and struggles across race, class and gender.

  • Daniel Libeskind

    Tribute to New York

    “If you took the whole world and collapsed it into one little ball, you’d find it here, in this city.” Daniel Libeskind, world-renowned architect behind the new World Trade Center site, gives tribute to his city in this short and colourful video.

  • Terry Winters

    Unintended Things to Happen

    In a culture full of digital images and copies, painting is a “singular lens with the capacity to reflect an individual’s vision,” says American artist Terry Winters. Hear how he applies a “painterly approach” to his work with printmaking and drawing.

  • Nobuo Sekine

    Sensibility of a Rock

    “I create works with the perspective of admiration for nature. I believe that my job is to convey the richness of nature to viewers.” Japanese artist Nobuo Sekine’s sculptures defy gravity. Learn how he got the idea to elevate a rock – and make it fly.

  • Alan Hollinghurst

    The Secret Life of a Poem

    An inspiring conversation with the award-winning English novelist Alan Hollinghurst – noted for his novel ‘The Line of Beauty’ – about being a sort of puppet master to his characters and being characterized as “a gay writer.”

  • Gardar Eide Einarsson

    The Violence Under the Surface

    “I’ve lost the youthful naivety that leads me to think authorities should be torn down. I see it as an on-going negotiation.” Norwegian-born Gardar Eide Einarsson, who is now based in Tokyo, knows first-hand how different societies deal with authority.