534 W 21st Street
In my poetry I do not try to find the words to express what I want to say. In my poetry I try to find ways to express what the words have to say.
NEW YORK—The Paula Cooper Gallery is pleased to announce an exhibition of Carl Andre poems, including works from as early as 1963. The poems will be on view from November 28 through January 26, 2002 at 534 West 21st Street.
An observable connection exists between Carl Andre’s minimalist sculpture and his poetry. Just as the sculptor famously abandoned welded, relational and vertical sculpture in favor of standardized elements placed on the floor, the poet approaches language as a concrete, complex matter that can be broken down to single units and then reordered in non-hierarchical, non-relational ways. The artist has said: “I use words in units which are different from sentences, grammatical sentences, but of course words always connect when they are placed together if they are not nonsense words. I have attempted to write poetry in which the sentence is not the dominant form but the word is the dominant form.”1 Dismissing punctuation, Andre juxtaposes words, stacks them in columns or places them in patterns, thus creating resonant connections and calling attention to the poem’s space: the field of the white page.
The poems on view use material derived from a variety of sources: the gospels, 19th-century travelogues or chronicles, navigation maps from Quincy, Mass. (the artist’s birthplace), historical documents and “the document of my own memory, autobiographical material.” Blue Cut Trials, for instance, an eleven-page poem from 1963, is derived from quotations from Charles Lindbergh’s book We, which Lindbergh published shortly after his trans-Atlantic flight. (This “Blue Cut”, combined with “Red Cut” and “White Cut,” forms America Drill). The process at work in Blue Cut Trials lies at the core of Andre’s practice as a poet: the isolation, within a pre-existing text, of specific or essential terms and “a recombining of these words to produce a poem.”
Also on view is Andre’s most recent poetic work, Shooting a Script (2000). This book-length poem is comprised of an interweaving of 17 different texts from 17 different witnesses to the shooting of a journalist in Waco, Texas, in 1898.
All quotations are taken from “Transcription of the tape made by Carl Andre for the exhibition of his poems at the Lisson Gallery, London and the Museum of Modern Art in Oxford, July 1975.” Transcribed and edited by Lynda Morris. ↩