My work centers on postwar American poetry and art but frames it, at times, within histories that extend back to the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. I’m interested in how texts and art objects mediate, transform, and disrupt (rather than simply “reflect”) the cultural and social possibilities of their moments. My first critical book, Frank O’Hara: The Poetics of Coterie, mounted a defense of O’Hara’s version of coterie writing as a paradoxically progressive mode. My second book, Fieldworks: From Place to Site in Postwar Poetics, traced the ethnographic and historiographic dimensions of location-specific poetry and art from Williams and Olson to Baraka, Snyder, Smithson, Mayer and Robertson.Specimen Box (forthcoming) takes off from the links between site-specificity and institution critique, exploring recent art and poetry’s recoding of enlightenment models of collection and display. I have also edited an issue of the Irish arts and culture magazine Printed Project on the interdisciplinary legacy of conceptualism. In general my critical writing comes out of my interests as a poet and member of a collaborative artist team.
I am now at work on two books: New Grounds for Dutch Landscape reframes the art of three seventeenth-century Dutch painters (van Goyen, Ruisdael and Hobbema) less as a mimetic project than as a literalist reenactment of the physical processes of Dutch land reclamation; Narrowcast: Poetry as Sonic Research is a site-specific account of recorded postwar American poetry that challenges characterizations of tape as a liberatory hands-free device good for uncoupling bodies from auditory effects. I explore, instead, the non-intentional, and non-human dimensions of recordings (their registration of sites, not just poems) as well as their repressive potential, as demonstrated by surveillance teams monitoring the living rooms and phones of new left poets like Sanders, Ginsberg and Baraka.