Ron Silliman
(USA, 1946)   
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Ron Silliman

Ron Silliman (1946, Pasco, Washington) is a poet, critic, essayist, blogger and market analyst in the computer industry. He is viewed as one of the founders of L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E-poetry – a movement that emerged in the United States at the end of the 1960s and early 1970s and which continues to have an impact today. In 1986, for instance, Silliman compiled the trendsetting Language anthology In the American Tree: Language, Realism, Thought, and a year later he published one of the key texts of this movement, The New Sentence.

Although the Language trend in poetry embraces a richly varied company of poets, they do have a number of points in common. Language rejects claims to being ‘natural’ or to authenticity and deliberately creates an artificial language – in keeping with Robert Grenier’s declaration ‘I HATE SPEECH’, with which, according to Silliman, Language began. Moreover, this poetry is emphatically concerned with the world and often has a political content. The exploration and transgression of genre boundaries (between poetry, prose and the essay form), for instance, is an issue on the agenda of many of the Language poets.
These distinguishing features are definitely applicable to Silliman’s work, which now amounts to more than thirty titles. You could just as well argue, however, that his poetry consists of a single long poem, a life’s work that he calls Ketjak. Once completed, it will consist of the following books: The Age of Huts (1974–1980), Tjanting (1979–1981), The Alphabet (1979–2004) and Universe (2005–).
For some time now, the range of Silliman’s much applauded and controversial work has transcended the Language tendency. With his blog, which he began in 2002, and which is simply called Silliman’s Blog, he has become a unifying factor in the poetry world, linking poets of all sorts. Roughly the same can be said about his poetry, which, like a revolving door, allows ‘everything’ to enter: “Revolving door. Clear lake. Over farm fields in a glider. Finally, there was nothing to turn you aside, the crowd’s bustle as tho at your own momentum, the voices would ebb and echo, as you push at last thru lobby after lobby.” 

© Arnoud van Adrichem and Han van der Vegt (Translated by Donald Gardner)

Moon in the Seventh House, Gunrunner Press, Milwaukee, WI, 1968
Three Syntactic Fictions for Dennis Schmitz, Bloodbooks, 1969
Crow, Ithaca House, Ithaca, NY, 1971
Mohawk, Doones Press, Bowling Green, OH, 1973
Nox, Burning Deck, Providence, RI, 1974
Ketjak, THIS, San Francisco, CA, 1978
Sitting Up, Standing, Taking Steps, Tuumba Press, Berkeley, CA, 1978
(Met anderen) Legend, Language/Segue, New York, NY, 1980
Tjanting, Figures, Berkeley, CA, 1981
BART, Potes & Poets Press, Elmwood, CT, 1982
ABC, Tuumba Press, Berkeley, CA, 1983
Paradise, Burning Deck, Providence, RI, 1985
The Age of Huts, Roof, New York, NY, 1986
LIT, Potes & Poets Press, Elmwood, CT, 1987
What, Figures, Great Barrington, MA, 1988
Manifest, Zasterle Press, Tenerife, Canarische Eilanden, Spanje, 1990
(Met anderen) Leningrad: American Writers in the Soviet Union, Mercury House, San Francisco, CA, 1991
Toner, Potes & Poets Press, Elmwood, CT, 1992
Demo to Ink, Chax Press, Tucson, AZ, 1992
Jones, Generator Press, Mentor, OH, 1993
N/O, Roof, New York, NY, 1994
Xing, Meow Press, Buffalo, NY, 1996
MultiPlex, with two pieces by Karen Mac Cormack, Wild Honey Press, Wickly, Ireland, 1998
® [pronounced “Circle R”], Drogue Press, New York, NY, 2000
Woundwood, Cuneiform Press, Buffalo, NY, 2004
The Age of Huts, compleat, University of California Press, Berkeley, CA, 2007
The Alphabet, University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa, AL, 2008
Wharf Hypothesis, Lines Press, Red Hook, NY, 2011
Under Albany, Salt Publishing, Cromer, UK, 2004
As editor
A Symposium on Clark, Coolidge, 1978
In the American Tree: Language, Realism, Thought (poetry anthology),National Poetry Foundation, University of Maine at Orono, Orono, ME, 1986
The New Sentence, kritiek, Roof, New York, NY, 1987
Unfinished Business: Twenty Years of Socialist Review, Verso Press, London, 1991
As contributor
The Grand Piano: An Experiment in Collective Autobiography, Mode A/This Press, Detroit, MI, 2007



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