Born in New York City on February 1, 1932, David Antin was educated at City College of New York, where he studied science and languages, and New York University, where he studied linguistics and received an M.A.
An experimentally driven poet, Antin’s early published work used found text, or juxtapositions of different kinds of texts to create new linguistic and philosophical meanings. In the late 1960s, Antin’s work often took the form of "talk poems," which were improvised pieces that he would perform extemporaneously. This work allowed Antin to be inventive, while also subverting the monotony of the "standardized" poetry reading. The poems themselves were often motivated by the location of the reading and the attendant audience. These poems were often recorded and some semblance of the original spoken texts were transcribed and published in Antin’s poetry collections.
Antin has published over ten books of poetry, including the talk-poem books Talking and Talking at the Boundaries along with other texts: a novel, an autobiography, and a conversation with Charles Bernstein. He has also written a great deal of critical essays, some of which, including an influential essay on the avant-garde, have been translated into Slovak and Hungarian.
An art critic and visual/media artist as well as a poet, Antin has also written essays and given art talks at such institutions as the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Sorbonne and the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles, where he has been a Fellow. Some of Antin’s recent visual media work has been in filmmaking, notably, a series of "Micro-Films" which are slide sequences of words and images that accumulate to create a very short film.
He has received numerous honors and awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities. He received the PEN Los Angeles Award for Poetry in 1984.
Antin has taught in the experimental visual arts department at the University of California at San Diego since 1968. He lives in San Diego with his wife, filmmaker and performance and installation artist, Eleanor Antin.
A Selected Bibliography
Code of Flag Behavior(1968)
Talking at the Boundaries (1976)
Selected Poems: 1963-1973 (1991)
What It Means to Be Avant-Garde (1993)
A Conversation with David Antin (with Charles Bernstein) (2001)
i never knew what time it was (2005)
john cage uncaged is still cagey (2005)