Tuesday 3 January 2012, 1:00 pm   /////  

Radical Books of 2011, 3/10

Motes, Craig Dworkin, Roof Books, 9781931824446

Short titles (or none) followed by hardly longer texts – the form is due to Bob Grenier’s A Day at the Beach and his materially innovative Sentences. Dworkin does something new, showing this is no one-trick pony and has use beyond a single poet. Zak Smith was the first to do a picture for every page of a novel (Gravity’s Rainbow) only to be followed by Matt Kish’s 2011 demonstration that the conceit had legs. Similarly, Dworkin innovates in Motes by being the second to try his hand at an unusual way of writing, and to show that it can amplify his different voice:





explanation of butter on the counter overnight

While playing on Grenier’s everyday experiences, Dworkin’s motes take another turn, entering language and ordinary experience more deeply at times, as in the oddly compelling:


I am tiger woods

I am tiger woods



  1. Thank you, by the way, I enjoyed this book. Found this article that in part discusses what is happening in Motes, I thought you might find it interesting too, if you haven’t already read it:

    Comment by Aric Maddux — 2012-02-03 @ 12:33 pm
  2. That’s a very nice piece; I particularly like how it relates Motes to some of more even more austerely conceptual work, such as Dworkin’s “Legion” (a great favorite of mine). His Parse is another purer and more direct project, involving a self-transformation but along the lines of work that is directly appropriated, found, and retyped. I’d say that Holocaust Museum and Found Poems, originally published in 1972, are the two on my 2011 list that are the clearest cousins to “Legion.”

    Comment by Nick Montfort — 2012-02-04 @ 4:59 pm
  3. It’s a pity that he took down “Legion” due to a copyright claim as I never had a chance to read it. I’ll be looking into the other books though. Thanks!

    Comment by Aric Maddux — 2012-02-06 @ 10:20 am
  4. There’s a nice excerpt up at The Brooklyn Rail. It’s not the same as having the whole work, of course, but it’s proven very useful for discussions in my experimental writing class.

    Comment by Nick Montfort — 2012-02-06 @ 11:42 am

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