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About this poet

Born in St. Louis, Missouri on June 16, 1959, Robert Fitterman spent his childhood in Creve Coeur, MO. He received his B.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an M.A. from Temple University.

He is the author of numerous collections of poetry, including Now we are friends (Truck Books, 2011), Rob the Plagiarist, (Roof Books, 2009), Sprawl: Metropolis 30A (2009), The Sun Also Also Rises, (2008), war, the musical (2006), Metropolis 30: The Decline and Fall Of The Roman Empire (2004), Metropolis 16-29 (2002), Metropolis 1-15 (2000), and many more.

With the poet Vanessa Place, he co-authored Notes On Conceptualisms (Ugly Duckling, 2009), a prose exploration of conceptual writing. He also edited the anthology, Collective Task (Patrick Lovelace Editions, 2009), featuring a large-scale collaboration between poets Mónica de la Torre, Stacy Doris, Juliana Spahr, among others.

About his writing practice, Fitterman says "experimental poetry has a long shelf life. Even if the community is small, the conversation could be vital to the future of the art...Beyond the numbers, what's crucial is to articulate, foster, and engage in a conversation that speaks to the dialogues of the day (and there may be many)."

Describing Fitterman's poems, Bruce Andrews writes:

They valorize themselves not so much by vernacular sampling (which is nothing new, even if it still scandalizes the clerisy) as by the rich and risky attentiveness of their prosodic choices. Relation is it.

Currently, he teaches writing and poetry at New York University and at the Bard College, Milton Avery School of Graduate Studies and lives in New York City.

from "A Hemingway Reader": The Sun Also Also Rises

Robert Fitterman, 1959
To look and to listen requires the work of attention, selection, reappropriation, a way of making one's own film, one’s own text, one's own installation out of what the artist has presented.
                                                           —Jacques Rancière

Book I

Chapter I

I am very much impressed by that. I never met any one of his class who remembered him. I mistrust all frank and simple people. I always had a suspicion. I finally had somebody verify the story. I was his tennis friend. I do not believe that. I first became aware of his lady's attitude toward him one night after the three of us had dined together. I suggested we fly to Strasbourg. I thought it was accidental. I was kicked again under the table. I was not kicked again. I said good-night and went out. I watched him walk back to the café. I rather liked him.

Chapter II

I am sure he had never been in love in his life. I did not realize the extent to which it set him off until one day he came into my office. I never wanted to go. I had a boat train to catch. I like this town. I can't stand it to think my life is going so fast and I'm not really living it. I'm not interested. I'm sick of Paris. I walked alone all one night and nothing happened. I was sorry for him but it was not a thing you could do anything about. I sorted out the carbons, stamped on a by-line, put the stuff in a couple of big manila envelopes and rang for a boy to take them to the Gare St. Lazare. I went into the other room. I wanted to lock the office and shove off. I put my hand on his shoulder. I can't do it. I didn't sleep all last night. I could picture it. I have a rotten habit of picturing the bedroom scenes of my friends.

Chapter III

I sat at a table on the terrace of the Napolitain. I watched a good-looking girl walk past the table and watched her go up the street and lost sight of her. I caught her eye. I saw why she made a point of not laughing. I paid for the saucers. I hailed a horse-cab. I put my arm around her. I put her hand away. I called to the cocher to stop. I had picked her up because of a vague sentimental idea that it would be nice to eat with some one. I had forgotten how dull it could be. I got hurt in the war. I was bored enough. I went back to the small room. I went over to the bar. I drank a beer. I could see their hands and newly washed, wavy hair in the light from the door. I was very angry. I know they are supposed to be amusing. I walked down the street and had a beer at the bar. I knew then that they would all dance with her. I sat down at a table. I asked him to have a drink. I was a little drunk. I got up and walked over to the dancing-floor. I took my coat off a hanger on the wall and out it on. I stopped at the bar and asked them for an envelope. I took a fiftyfranc note from my pocket.

Chapter IV

I saw her face in the lights from the open shops. I saw her face clearly. I kissed her. I was pretty well through with the subject. I went out onto the sidewalk. I did not see who it was. I wanted to get home. I stopped and read the inscription. I knocked on the door and she gave me my mail. I wished her good night and went upstairs. I looked at them under the gaslight. I got out my check-book. I felt sure I could remember anybody. I lit the lamp beside the bed. I sat with the windows open and undressed by the bed. I looked at myself in the mirror of the big armoire beside the bed. I put on my pajamas and got into bed. I had the two bull-fight papers, and I took their wrappers off. I read it all the way through. I blew out the lamp. I wonder what became of the others. I was all bandaged up. I never used to realize it. I lay awake thinking and my mind jumping around. I couldn't keep away from it. I started to cry. I woke up. I listened. I thought I recognized a voice. I put on a dressing-gown. I heard my name called down the stairs. I looked at the clock. I was getting brandy and soda and glasses. I went back upstairs. I took them both to the kitchen. I turned off the gas in the dining-room. I had felt like crying. I thought of her walking up the street. I felt like hell again.

Chapter V

I walked down the Boulevard. I read the papers with the coffee and then smoked a cigarette. I passed the man with the jumping frogs. I stepped aside. I read the French morning papers. I shared a taxi. I banged on the glass. I went to the office in the elevator. I was looking over my desk. I held him off. I left him to come to the office.

Chapter VI

I sat down and wrote some letters. I went down to the bar. I looked for her upstairs on my way out. I saw a string of barges being towed empty down the current. I suppose it is. I walked past the sad tables. I watched him crossing the street through the taxis. I never heard him make one remark. I do not believe he thought about his clothes much. I don't know how people could say such terrible things. I don't even feel an impulse to try to stop it. I stood against the bar looking out. I did not want anything to drink and went out through the side door. I looked back. I went down a side street. I got in and gave the driver the address to my flat.

Chapter VII

I went up to the flat. I put the mail on the table. I heard the door-bell pull. I put on a bathrobe and slippers. I filled the big earthenware jug with water. I dressed slowly. I felt tired and pretty rotten. I took up the brandy bottle. I went to the door. I found some ash-trays and spread them around. I looked at the count. I had that feeling of going through something that has already happened before. I had the feeling as in a nightmare of it all being something repeated, something I had been through and that now I must go through again. I took a note out of my pocket. I looked back and there were three girls at his table. I gave him twenty francs and he touched his cap. I went upstairs and went to bed.


Note from the author: "When I was 13, my brother gave me a copy of Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises. It was my first foray into real Literature and I hated it. Even with little or no way to enter the novel, I dutifully slugged through it (I mean, what is cog-nak anyway?) Years later, I have returned to revisit the relationship. In this version, I have erased my way through Hemingway's original text, leaving behind only the phrases that begin with the pronoun 'I'."

Copyright © 2009 by Robert Fitterman. Used with permission of the author.

Robert Fitterman

Robert Fitterman

About his writing practice, Fitterman says "experimental poetry has a long shelf life. Even if the community is small, the conversation could be vital to the future of the art

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