poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

About this poet

Born in 1958, Wayne Koestenbaum attended Harvard University and received an MA in creative writing from Johns Hopkins University and a PhD from Princeton University. After being named co-winner of the 1989 Discovery/The Nation poetry contest, he published his first collection of poetry, Ode to Anna Moffo and Other Poems (Persea, 1990), which was chosen as one of The Village Voice Literary Supplement's "Favorite Books of 1990."

His other books of poetry include Blue Stranger With Mosaic Background (Turtle Point Press, 2012); Best Selling Jewish Porn Films (Turtle Point Press, 2006); Model Homes (BOA Editions, 2004); The Milk of Inquiry (Persea, 1999); and Rhapsodies of A Repeat Offender (Persea, 1994).

About his poetry, David Lehman has said, "Wayne Koestenbaum has been writing poems so dashing and poignant, so sexy and savvy, that it’s hard not to like them. He puts wordplay at the service of autobiography, and autobiography at the service of the ceaseless inquiry into the origins of woe, the mysteries of sex, and the dialectic of the brain and crotch."

Koestenbaum is also widely known as a cultural critic for his books on Jackie Kennedy and opera: Jackie Under My Skin: Interpreting an Icon (FSG, 1995) and The Queen's Throat: Opera, Homosexuality and the Mystery of Desire (Poseidon Books, 1993), which was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award. His other books of criticism include My 1980s and Other Essays (FSG, 2013); The Anatomy of Harpo Marx (University of California Press, 2012); Andy Warhol (Viking, 2001); Cleavage: Essays on Sex, Stars, and Aesthetics (Ballantine Books, 2000); and Double Talk: The Erotics of Male Literary Collaboration (Routledge, 1989). He has also published several novels, including Humiliation (Picador, 2011) and Hotel Theory (Soft Skull Press, 2007).

Koestenbaum received a Whiting Writer's Award in 1994 and taught in Yale's English department from 1988 to 1996. He has taught painting at the Yale School of Art since 2003 and lives in New York City where he is a Distinguished Professor of English at the CUNY Graduate Center.




Selected Bibliography

Poetry

Blue Stranger With Mosaic Background (Turtle Point Press, 2012)
Best Selling Jewish Porn Films (Turtle Point Press, 2006)
Model Homes (BOA Editions, 2004)
The Milk of Inquiry (Persea, 1999)
Rhapsodies of A Repeat Offender (Persea, 1994)
Ode to Anna Moffo and Other Poems (Persea, 1990)

Fiction

Humiliation (Picador, 2011)
Hotel Theory (Soft Skull Press, 2007)
Moira Orfei in Aigues-Mortes (Soft Skull Press, 2004)

Prose

My 1980s and Other Essays (FSG, 2013)
The Anatomy of Harpo Marx (University of California Press, 2012)
Andy Warhol (Viking, 2001)
Cleavage: Essays on Sex, Stars, and Aesthetics (Ballantine Books, 2000)
Jackie Under My Skin: Interpreting an Icon (FSG, 1995)
The Queen's Throat: Opera, Homosexuality and the Mystery of Desire (Poseidon Books, 1993)
Double Talk: The Erotics of Male Literary Collaboration (Routledge, 1989)

National Nudist Club Newsletter

Wayne Koestenbaum
Into the unisex nursery's toilet my undershirt falls.
I fish it out and find my face on a marquee.

Florida: in sneakers, I construct
Delft shelves to store scrawled diagnoses.

I enter an observation tank
(rightly considered tragic, irreversible)

to greet the hatchetfaced magician whose dead mother
says welcome back, implying I've been fired.

Through Skinner Box glass 
he watches me play with dildos, blades. Entranced 

by unending orgasm, I dismiss his tendency 
to find amelioration in experience's fluctuating shallows.

Copyright © 2010 by Wayne Koestenbaum. Used by permission of the author.

Copyright © 2010 by Wayne Koestenbaum. Used by permission of the author.

Wayne Koestenbaum

Wayne Koestenbaum

Born in 1958, Wayne Koestenbaum is a poet, novelist, and cultural critic. His latest collection of poems is Best Selling Jewish Porn Films

by this poet

poem
the atonality of folded underwear

the Tel Aviv of Chinese water torture

the martians of My Three Sons 

the parsimony of Tel Quel

the archivist of beatitudes

the Helsinki of Frankenstein

the Winchester Mystery House of devil-may-care

the worldwide franchise of Croatian mystery plays

the Bettie
poem


            sell me a clip-on
bow-tie or a mock
fringe chapeau worn on
the collarbone—a
new style of “shoulder
hat,” a cape to
protect your shoulders
from rain and chill and
to prevent the wearer
from sliding (like
Mickey Mantle) into
a third
poem

 

Click the icon above to listen to this audio poem.