Thematic Index to Michael Benedikt's THE BODY & SKY

Subject-Index to topics of poems in Michael Benedikt's first two books of Poetry:

THE BODY (Wesleyan U. Press, l968) & SKY (Wesleyan U. Press, l970)

[Last Modified 10/00 & 1/01--new Notes & Photos & new text+Navigational Aids]

Intended as a college-level teacher & also student resource,  this page indexes by topic
all poems in both books. But General Readers may also enjoy Notes & Commentary, photos, etc.

 General Note         Page Contents         Main Themes

Start of Indexing           Start of Notes & Commentary

Benedikt's Poetry-&-Theatre Events

Benedikt in l969

Benedikt in l969

Book Jackets

                                         The Body                                                        Sky


                              [Illustration by Anonymous]                      [Painting by Tom Wesselmann]                

General Note

This is a page-in-progress re two books written in the mid-&-later l960's,
and published within a couple of years of each other.
A ground-breaking, watershed period in both America's political history
and in the Arts, it was also a particularly explorative period in Benedikt's poetry.
THE BODY and SKY--both of which contain poems in an unusually wide variety of poetic forms and styles--
initiate the esthetic explorations to be found in Benedikt's later books
as well as other later writings,  some of which are represented on The Web.

Contents of This Webpage

1.  Thematic Index in Brief: Topics in THE BODY/SKY
Click for Main Themes in THE BODY & SKY by Category

     2.  Thematic Index: List of Topics by Category, & Related Titles of Poems
(includes Notes & Commentary on some thematic categories--more N&C to come)
Click for Main Themes in THE BODY and SKY with Poem-Titles & Commentary

3.  Orig. 'Acknowledgment Pages' for THE BODY and SKY as printed by Wesleyan
Click for Acknowledgment Pages & Names of  Literary Magazines in which poems first appeared

4.  Brief Benedikt Biography/Bibliography
Click for Brief Bio.

5.   Links to Other Pages of This Website
Click for Other Pages of  Website

6.  Selected External Benedikt Links
Click for sites re other Benedikt books

Main Themes in THE BODY and SKY by Category

Thematic Categories, starred [*] are followed by Notes & Commentary
Notes so far provide info on Benedikt's philosophical concerns & multi-media interests
during the mid-to-later 1960's period when BODY and SKY were being written

(Notes appear below categories discussed, & begin with comments on the Philosophical poems)

The Four Elements,   Childhood and Youth and Growing Up,   Gardens and Their Symbolic Meanings,

Time,     Space,     Spirituality,     Philosophy  [*],

   Love and Eroticism,    Business and Finance,   Social Concerns,    Aging (indexing in progress)

Language and Esthetics,   Film & Theatre  [*],   References to l960's Art, Artists & Rock Music  [*],

& Poems that go to Classifiable Extremes:

(1)  Poems in Unusual Forms  [*],  (2)  Highly Surrealistic Poems  [*],

(3)  Poems With Unusual/Multiple Dictional Shifts  [*]

Benedikt in l966 at
Kinetic Theater Event 'Meat Joy' by Carolee Schneemann

Above: a mid-1960's Happening.  Second from right is Benedikt--in jacket & wearing tie, no less.
Event is Meat Joy, a "Kinetic Theatre"  piece by Carolee Schneemann. Schneemann, stressed-out, upper left.
Date & Location of Event: l966, Judson Church, NYC.

Click to Top

Click back up to Page Contents

Click down for start of Notes & Commentary

Thematic Index:
Main Topics in THE BODY & SKY
& Titles of Poems Related to Those Topics
(includes Notes & Commentary on some Topics)

Info & Compilations by The Benedikt Team

The Four Elements--THE BODY

Pyromaniac's Lament in Spring

The Four Elements--SKY

Liquid Links
On Earth
The Sky

Childhood & Youth & Growing Up--THE BODY

Mr. Rainman
The Cities
The Ambitious Lump

Childhood & Youth & Growing Up--SKY

Passing Through Troy/The Student of Wonder
Psalm I

Gardens & their Symbolic Meanings--THE BODY

Pink Buds
In Love With You

Gardens & their Symbolic meanings--SKY

Go--And Whisper To Roses
This Morning I Fooled A Butterfly
The Statue Speaks
Overheard in A Third Avenue Bar
On The Lawn
The Woman In The Tree


Gemini Emblem
After His 31st Birthday Party
The Way Things Settle
The Wings of The Nose
Old School Ties


The Future
The Seer
The Statue Speaks (for Bob Dylan)
On The Lawn
Time Makes Monuments Out Of Events (after Robert Morris)
Vertical Considerations
Vertical Virtues
The Bed Beyond The Bed
Fate In Incognito
Four Psalms
Absence Of Me
Naming The Baby



The Seer
The Sky

Spirituality & Belief--THE BODY

The Spirit
Some Feelings
A Strained Credulity
The Saint
The Guardian Angel

Spirituality & Belief--SKY

Country Living
The Statue Speaks (for Bob Dylan)
Go Away
Vertical Considerations
The Bed Beyond The Bed
The High
Four Psalms
Sunday Morning: Hymn

Philosophy--THE BODY(*) Notes/Commentary begin below titles of poems in categories discussed

After A Reading of (Marshall) McLuhan, Whom I Admired


On The Lawn
Go Away
Throw Away The Rainbow
The High
On Earth
The Sky
Four Psalms
Absence Of Me
Let Me Out
Liquid Links  (not a compendium of URLs, but actually a poem title; Cf also "Site," above)

(*) In two of three extant interviews, Benedikt comments on his readings in the philosophy of Greek philosopher Plato, during the later l960's and while writing SKY especially. (Central theme of SKY, overall, is announced in its title poem "The Sky" which--expressing yearning for some kind of more flexible, fluid, non-physical & virtual Reality than then existed or was then technologically conceivable--begins: "Everything must become lighter/All phenomena of flora and fauna"). Benedikt's personal, cultural, & generally highly futuristic yearnings aside, Plato's classic philosophical ideas seem infused with the poet's thinking of l960's--and the later 1960's especially. Plato's idea that there's an ideal, timeless world of some kind, which passing things and existing phenomena merely approximate and generally fall short of, are in harmony with the acerbic critiques of reality and the related yearnings for a far better reality expressed in THE BODY & (especially) SKY--and in fact throughout all 5 of Benedikt 's published poetry books. (Benedikt's acerbic, piquant critiques are sometimes funny, sometimes cuttingly ironical; & sometimes both; but critiques of, for example, heavy-handed, conventional, pre-Web non-virtual "Reality" are implicitly present in all his poetry books). Sidelight: Interviews with Benedikt have appeared in the critical festschrift, BENEDIKT: A PROFILE (Grilled Flowers Press, l978, interview by Naomi Shihab Nye); and in The Falcon (a literary magazine issued by Mansfield State College, Pa., l976, interview conducted by W.A. Blais--reprinted with revisions in Poesis: A Journal of Criticism , a periodical issued by Bryn Mawr College, Pa.,1987); and in The Poetry Society of America Newsletter (PSA interview by Dennis Stone, l985). Available online is The PSA Interview--with answers to interview questions updated & expanded in 1998. (A link to PSA interview, which focusses particularly on prose poetry, is given at end-site under "External Links: Brief Prose Poems/Interview" ).  (Tip: Don't go there yet; you might lose your place). Perspectives re THE BODY & SKY are given in the course of all 3 interviews.

Love poems (Poems about Love & Eroticism)--THE BODY(*)

Divine Love
Some Litanies
Hiding Place
Pink Buds
In Love With You
The Grand Guignols of Love
The Great Divan
Fraudulent Days
A Visual Face
A Beloved Head
Events by Moonlight
For Love or Money: Two Complaints--Part 1
At Night
The Observation-Tower
The Swimmer's Tears
Before Going On
Inside The Mystery
The Bathroom Mirror

Love poems (Poems about Love & Eroticism)--SKY(*)

Advice to One More Novice in New York
The Bed Beyond The Bed
All Women Are One Woman (for their Liberation & Mine)
For Jane (& Roger) But Certainly Not For Henry; or, Barbarella
Modest Undressings
To Persuade A Lady
After a Poetry Reading by Allan Kaplan
Sunday Morning: Hymn
The Woman In The Tree

(*) Commentary on the above "Love Poems" BODY-SKY category forthcoming in 2001. Forthcoming before that: a new BODY-SKY webpage called Dark Love Poems.
Page posted 1/01 at URL:

Business & Finance--THE BODY

For Love or Money: Two Complaints--Part 2

Business & Finance--SKY


Poems of Social Concern--THE BODY

Pyromaniac's Lament in Spring

Poems of Social Concern--SKY

Clement Attlee
The Artillery Portrait
All Women Are One Woman (for their Liberation & Mine)
Overheard in A Third Avenue Bar
Let Me Out

Language & Esthetics--THE BODY

Events by Moonlight
After A Reading of McLuhan, Whom I Admired

Language & Esthetics--SKY

The Sky
Absence Of Me
The Esthetic Fallacy
Definitive Things
Mirror (Poem-Event for Julian Beck)
After a Poetry Reading by Allan Kaplan
The Wonders of The Arm

Film & Theatre--THE BODY

Film & Theatre--SKY(*)

The Audience for Eternity
Mirror (Poem-Event for Julian Beck)
For Jane (& Roger) But Certainly Not For Henry; or, Barbarella (for Jane Fonda)
Overheard in A Third Avenue Bar (Jean-Luc Godard; passing reference)
Naming The Baby (Godard; passing reference)

(*) Benedikt's interest in the films of Godard is also reflected in the article "Alphaville And Its Subtext (in Paul Eluard's Poetry)," collected in Jean-Luc Godard, Ed. Toby Mussman (E.P. Dutton, 1968). A translation by Benedikt of Godard's scenario for his film "A Woman Is A Woman" appeared in France circa l966 in Cahiers du Cinema, the unofficial organ of French "New Wave" Film Directors. It, too, was reprinted in Dutton's Godard anthology. Benedikt's BODY & SKY poems, with their quick "cross-cutting" from image to image, their proliferations of metaphor, and their playful leaps into the funny & the fantastic replete with visions of other- worldly, playfully child-like bliss--as well as worldly, sensuous & sometimes erotic bliss--suggest great sympathy with the rapidity & formally-liberated technique, mood & tone of most 60's "New Wave" film-making. It's a technique which, itself, owes much to the image-juxtaposing techniques of The Collage, as practiced by many leading 20th-century painters & other painters, too.

Benedikt's interest in Happenings, suggested in "Mirror"--a poem dedicated to Director Julian Beck of The Living Theatre--is fully reflected in his anthology THEATER EXPERIMENT (Doubleday, l967). THEATER EXPERIMENT includes, in addition to a general Introduction to the Happening genre, scripts by leading 1960's "happener" Allan Kaprow, with Charles Frazier (Gas); Carolee Schneemann (Meat Joy); and Robert Whitman. (It was about Whitman's Happening Flower that Benedikt wrote his first art-related article, which appeared in The Village Voice in l963, when Happenings were still relatively new. The article is reprinted in THEATER EXPERIMENT). TE also includes brief Intros to scripted Events. Note by Benedikt re origins of The Happening (excerpt from Benedikt's notes on the subject in THEATER EXPERIMENT): "The Happening's roots are in the visual media. Allan Kaprow, the former painter, sculptor and Rutgers Art History instructor who in l959 appears to have both named and invented the form with his 18 Happenings in Six Parts, has traced the Happening to '...Futurist manfestoes and noise concerns, Dada's chance experiments and cabaret performances, Surrealism's interest in automatic drawing and poetry, and the extension of those into Action Painting...'" (the latter, perhaps best-known today as Abstract Expressionism). In Benedikt's case, an underlying love of meditative, thoughtful quietude--& a wish to evoke that state in audiences--seems to have been at the heart of  his happening-style Events. After all, he's also the author of a highly original book of prose poems partly in praise of the modest, retiring habits of Moles: Mole Notes (Wesleyan, l971).

Alt. Book-Jkt design for SKY by Chas. Frazier

Above: Alternate Book-Jacket Design for SKY (l970) by Sculptor Charles Frazier

The  more kinetic aspect of the formal explorativeness of the l960's Happening is suggested by the many dynamic, fast-moving poems in THE BODY & SKY--despite the fact that (1) the poems make readily recognizable sense; (2) are generally easy to follow despite the underlying sense of mystery pervading many; and (3) proceed according to highly logical (or else humorously & obviously deliberately illogical) thought-patterns. The esthetic riskinesness--and to some extent the interest in interactivity with audiences to be found in many Happenings (in the case of poet Benedikt, interactivity with poetry audiences and readers)--appears to have been very much on the poet's mind when he wrote the wide-ranging poems of THE BODY and (perhaps especially) SKY. In sum: influences on Benedikt's early poetry were not primarily literary. Nor were they limited to influences from painting, or the NYC art gallery world, as was the case with the handful of other poet-art critics writing in New York City at the time.

Two other Benedikt visual-arts-related articles, "Happenings in 1968" and "The Underground Film Breaks Cover" were published in l968 in The London Magazine. "New at The Seventh Annual Lincoln Center Film Festival" appeared in Andy Warhol's magazine Inter/View, in 1969.

Carole Schneemann in an Event by Benedikt based on his poem 'Tears,'
ca. 1969

Above: Tears, a pocket-sized Event (Happening) by Benedikt circa l969. Benedikt (at right, in "Sergeant Pepper"-type jacket) & Assistant (at left, with tray) are seen attaching tears with (water-soluble) glue to Carolee Schneemann, whose full-length Happening Meat Joy was one of the leading Events of its kind, during the '60's period. During gradual, tear-by-tear tear-attachment, a tape was played of Benedikt reading a short poem from THE BODY called 'Tears.' The poem itself is a visual work--of the "Concrete Poem" type. 'Tears' consists mainly of repetitions of the word "tears," and is "Concrete" because it somewhat resembles its subject--tears being shed, or perhaps falling raindrops on the printed page. During performance, the poem was repeated several time at low volume in the background via pre-recorded tape-loop. Effect: Hypnotic--the opposite of the effect realized in Schneemann's Meat Joy, which was (in Schneemann's own words), intended to be "Kinetic." Poem 'Tears" is forthcoming at the 2nd page of this 5-page Website. (Location of Event: Max's Kansas City Bar & Grill in Manhattan--a large, elegant establishment especially hospitable to art & artists which flourished in NYC in the later 60's).

Other Later 1960's Events by Benedikt (all of which were performed after publication of THE BODY in l968 & during the composition of SKY, published in l970): Two events were staged in NYC at the Manhattan loft  studio of major 1960's painter Robert Rauschenberg (whose quasi-Abstract Expressionist, quasi-Pop "Assemblagist" paintings have much in common with the collage-like, kinetic look of most "happenings"). The first event was based on a much-anthologized BODY poem called 'The European Shoe' (poem to be found at the Selected Poems from THE BODY  page of this website).  Like 'Tears,' 'Shoe,' too, was presented accompanied by a reading of poetry utilizing tape-loop. The second event entailed projection of 8mm film images using dual 8mm film projectors as taped poetry was read in the background--presaging the numerous presentations of poetry-&-video on Public Television beginning in the 1980's & continuing to this day. Both events were part of a group of events presented simultaneously in a single evening at Rauschenberg's loft studio. A later Benedikt event  (content being researched) had as site The Bandshell in NYC's Central Park, and was presented as part of an evening of performances by writer & "happener" (& then-lingeree-designer) Hannah Weiner, poet art-critic John Perreault, multi-media entrepreneur John Giorno and poet Vito Acconci--who in the '80's & '90's went on to help create & shape "Performance Art"--a form with roots firmly planted in the Happening. Yet another Benedikt event was presented in &-- via images projected from 8mm films onto the walls of surrounding buildings--around writer Weiner's NYC apartment & design studio. Photographs documenting some of these events are forthcoming at this website. In addition to the photo from Tears at this Webpage, online at the URL given just below this paragraph is the cover of Playbill for "Three Poetry Events" performed at NYC's 92nd St "Y" Poetry Center. Benedikt organized that occasion & served as Master of Ceremonies for it. The "Y" events included Benedikt's poetry-&-dance event "Box." "Box" was conceived by Benedikt. It was based on a poem called "Box" written specifically for the event--a poem as-yet-uncollected. Event was realized with assistance of Charles Frazier, who sculpted props for it (3 very large, floppy foam-rubber letters spelling out the word "Box"); & dancer Linda Tolbert Tarnay, who choreographed dances suitable for all 3 letters. Others who presented events on that occasion--the only occasion on which Happenings were ever presented at a major NYC Poetry venue--were John Perreault and painter Marjorie Strider. Playbill-cover for "Three Poetry Events," incorporating a well-known '60's 'Pop' painting by Jim Dine, appears at Benedikt's Theatre, Film & TV Poems. NEW in 2001: One photo--of an existing series of 35mm, still photos by Charles Frazier  documenting "Box"-- now also appears at that site. Benedikt shot a 3-minute 8mm film of  key scenes from the dance portion of the event.

References to l960's Art, Artists, & Rock Musicians--THE BODY(*)

References to l960's Art, Artists, & Rock Musicians --SKY(*)

Overheard in A Third Avenue Bar (poet-songwriter Bob Dylan; passing reference)
The Statue Speaks (dedicated to Bob Dylan)
Time Makes Monuments Out Of Events (dedicated to "Minimalist" sculptor Robert Morris)
The High (N.Y. Philharmonic cellist & "Happener" Charlotte Moorman; high-fashion designer
          Rudi Gernreich, passing references)
Site (yes, title is Site--rock group "Bill Haley & The Comets," key reference)
Naming The Baby (Mick Jagger of "The Rolling Stones" & 60's singer-songwriter Donovan;
          passing references)

(*) Directly or indirectly, many poems in THE BODY and SKY (the latter especially) reflect the iconography of visual artists--particularly the "Pop Artists" and "Minimalist Artists" active during the l960's. During the l960's Benedikt worked as an Art Critic, reviewing art exhibitions from l963-l972 as one of several Editorial Associates for the magazine Art News, and also authoring feature articles on such artists as the early 20th century French "Intimist" painter Pierre Bonnard, and contemporary US painters Fairfield Porter, Jack Youngerman, and Sherman Drexler. As one of only three 'New York Correspondents' responsible for covering major art exhibits in the entire N.Y.City metropolitan area, from l965 to 1967 Benedikt also reviewed art exhibitions for the magazine Art International. The Art International reviews are more extended  than the Art News reviews. Examples of a few of the A. I. reviews were collected under the title "Sculpture as Architecture: New York Letter for Art International 1966-67," and appear in the anthology Minimalist Art, ed. Gregory Battcock (E.P. Dutton, l968). An extensive article entitled "The Visionary French: l9th Century French Symbolist Poets & Painters" which first appeared in Art News Annual 1966, was reprinted in The Grand Eccentrics, ed. John Ashbery and Thomas B. Hess (Collier Books, 1971). Note once again the multi-media, inter-disciplinary nature of Benedikt's activities in the '60's. (Websites of course, are also interdisciplinary --simultaneously involving verbal & visual esthetic disciplines . Benedikt has had a hand in the creation of several. Selected URLs--those directly related to other Benedikt book publications--are cited at close of this webpage).

Sidelight: "Yoko Ono Notes," a feature article about a Museum Exhibition in Buffalo, NY by the Asian-American conceptual artist--at which former Beatle John Lennon acted as co-spokesperson during press conferences/one-on-one conferences with art critics such as Benedikt--appeared in the British magazine Art & Artists in 1972. The piece is illustrated by photos taken by Benedikt, as are the two London Magazine articles on film & theater referred to earlier.

Benedikt taking photo at Art Gallery in London

Above: Benedikt photographing an environmental sculpture at an art gallery in London, l968.
(Sculpture is 'mirror-room' type. Photog. is leaning through circular opening in wall of sculpture to take photo)

Although the visual arts were by far Benedikt' primary "extra-literary" area of interest, during the later l960's Benedikt also wrote lyrics for songs . A couple were used in a couple of Hollywood feature films. His biography in Marquis' standard Library Reference Work Who's Who in Entertainment, for example, mentions them. His formal affliation as a songwriter with BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc., which licenses rights for re-broadcast of recorded music of all kinds on radio, TV, etc.) began circa l966-7. More about that additional 60's multi-media involvement in one of the future editions of this webpage.

(Poems that go to Classifiable Extremes:)

Poems in Unusual Forms --THE BODY(*)

The European Shoe (a "List-Poem"; also a poem with lines extending into biblical-type
          strophes & verging on prose poem, but with modern concerns

The Eye ( " )
Some Litanies (poem-playlets)
Tears (poem incorporating "Concrete Poem," i.e., "Visual Poem" ingredient)
A Visual Face (poem incorporating "Concrete Poem" ingredient)
An Enormous Dangling Sack-Like Net (pure Prose Poem--the only one in THE BODY (l968)
         or SKY (1970). Starting in 1971, Benedikt turned from verse--& wrote prose poems
          almost exclusively for nearly a decade)

Poems in Unusual Forms--SKY(*)

Four Psalms (poem with lines extending into biblical-type strophes, verging on Prose Poem)
Mirror: Poem-Event for Julian Beck (poem which considers the act of writing as an
          "event"--event, in the sense of a l960's-style "Happening." (During the l960's,
          "Event" was an alternative term used for the "Happening"). Under Directorship of
          Beck, his troupe The Living Theater, created several of epic proportions in USA &
          abroad, including "Paradise Now" & "Dionysius in '69." "Mirror" considers
          its own progress, as if it were, itself, an "Event"; and is one of many BODY/SKY
          poems in which Benedikt offers "asides" taking the reader into his confidence
          with regard to The Poetic Process).
Sidelight: Beck's Happenings reached epic
          proportions by being interactive to an extreme degree--& by attempting to involve
          audiences on an intimate & (in the case of  Beck's works certainly) even quasi-sexual level
On The Lawn (free-verse poem which changes dramatically from seemingly improvised
         form to "List Poem")

Vertical Considerations ( " )
Site (begins as free-form poem; concludes by abruptly referring back to itself)
Naming The Baby (a "List Poem," but with free-form, lyrical beginning & ending)
Definitive Things (poem structured by reference to puns and approximately similar words,
          forcing issues of "Concrete Poetry" by being "Concrete" in the extreme--
          i.e., by referring back to itself & by actually taking into account the size of the page
          on which it's printed, which poem ends by expressing fears about falling off of).

(*) Besides being in "free" verse, many poems in THE BODY & (especially) SKY possess structures which seem highly improvisational. They force issues of what philosopher-esthetician Suzanne K. Langer calls "Organic Form" or "Virtual form"--perhaps to the vicinity of their limits. (Benedikt, as many critics have noted, is a risk-taker, even as modern/contemporary poets go). Listed above are examples of poems in which the feeling for Organic Form in both THE BODY & SKY, produces poems in genres either (1) rare in poetry or (2) new for Benedikt, or even (3) brand-new to poetry. These poems contain the seeds of many other, less obviously esthetically extreme but nonetheless counter-to-norm & quite unusual BODY/SKY poems. In 2 of his 3 interviews, Benedikt points out that his later-l960's interest in forcing the limits of "Organic Form" eventually led to his nearly total commitment in the l970's to The Prose Poem as a literary genre--as Editor, as well as practicing poet. Cf . Benedikt's third poetry book, MOLE NOTES (prose poems, Wesleyan U. Press, l971); and his fourth, NIGHT CRIES (Prose Poems, Wesleyan, l976); and also THE PROSE POEM: AN INTERNATIONAL ANTHOLOGY (Dell/Laurel, l976). (Re the latter: Issued as a mass-market paperback--but by now legendarily scarce and currently available only in libraries & in rare bookstores offline & via Book Search Services such as those of &  (Barnes & Noble) online--to this day a durable, hardcover edition of THE PROSE POEM has yet to be printed. Over the years, many have lamented this. For example, most recently (as of the date of our later 2000 modifications of this Website), the editor of a literary magazine called The Prose Poem: A International Journal--which was named after Benedikt's prose poem anthology--wrote in his Preface to Issue #10 re Benedikt's "groundbreaking anthology": "when will some visionary publisher reprint this wondrous collection?" Issue #10 of PPAIJ, on topic of "The Best of The Prose Poem," also includes an example of a relatively recent, later Benedikt prose poem.

In Benedikt's P.S.A. interview, also referred to earlier, he refers to the influence of ideas re "Organic Form" in encouraging him to extend the long lines of some of his verse poems into strophes, paragraphs, and finally--in MOLE NOTES and NIGHT CRIES (two books of prose poems published in the l970's) into prose poems written in single paragraphs. (In some of his prose poems Benedikt breaks up his paragraphs into numbered sections like stanzas--which is unusual as prose poems go, & may even be globally unique). Some of his longer prose poems pre-figure the "Microfiction" form. Benedikt's return to writing verse was signalled by THE BADMINTON AT GREAT BARRINGTON, published in l980. (He continues to write both verse poetry & prose poetry). Sidelight: Another online source for Benedikt's Out-Of-Print books is N.B.: Bibliography at this page cites books actually by this Michael Benedikt. Others are by others. (In other areas than poetry--writing about architecture and virtual reality, to be precise--poet Benedikt reports that they do good, unusually far-seeing, forward-looking work, too).

Highly Surrealistic Poems--THE BODY(*)

Motions: after Man Ray, Surrealist photographer (poem is an extension of an idea to be
          found in Man's Ray's photo 'The Mystery of Isadore Ducasse', a.k.a. French poet

Mr. Rainman
The Eye of the Assassin
The European Shoe
The Aider
Some Old Men
A Beloved Head
Events By Moonlight
Dangerous Ways
The Villain
A Room
The Wings of The Nose
The Debris of The Body
The Audience for Eternity
The Guardian Angel

Highly Surrealistic Poems--SKY(*)

Go--& Whisper to Roses
Clement Attlee
The Seer
The Artillery Portrait
Psalm IV

(*) Some critics have considered both THE BODY and SKY "Surrealistic"--or at least influenced by 20th-Century French Surrealism. Benedikt's anthology THE POETRY OF SURREALISM (Little, Brown & Co.)--which had been in preparation for several years--was published in 1974, a few years after both early poetry books were issued. However, it's useful to remember that Surrealism itself has roots which spring--like Benedikt's early poetry--from 19th-Century French Romantic & Symbolist poetry. (In Benedikt's case, it would appear--& as his Interviews confirm--English Romantic & French Symbolist poetry). Listed above are a few of the poems in which Surrealism definitely predominates.

Forthcoming at this space in a future edition of this website: Notes on French Surrealism and the Abstract-Expressionist "Action Painters" of the l950's (many of whom lived in New York City) who were influenced by it--and who in turn influenced the "kinetic" aspect of most Happenings. Also, notes on some other poet-art critics active in NYC in the l960's. With info also on Benedikt's brief association with the first generation of the poets of the so-called "New York School" who were among the American poets his senior whom Benedikt admired & the influence of whose work helped to shape his early 1960's poetry--reflected first in a tiny small-press chapbook of short poems called Changes (New Fresco, Inc., l961). (Chief among Benedikt's admirations in l961, he reports, were Kenneth Koch, Frank O'Hara & John Ashbery). Sidelights: The BODY/SKY 'Dark Love Poems' Webpage includes a poem called "Divine Love" which is dedicated to Robert Bly. Another 'Dark Love Poem,' "The Grand Guignols of Love," has a dedication thanking Louis Simpson for his advice on the verse. Benedikt's courses in modern poetry at Bennington & Sarah Lawrence in the later l960's were innovative in that they consisted of classes re exactly contemporary poetics, which Benedikt insisted on teaching; and re poets who were still a questionmark in academia--& for most literary critics at the time, too. Benedikt was to varying degrees friendly with many of the poets he taught--including some of those referred to above--as well as James Wright, James Dickey, Erica Jong; & others. Benedikt's surviving course syllabi /reading assignments embrace an honor-roll of highly original poets (mostly about a decade Benedikt's Senior) once considered academic "questionmarks"--but who in later times came to be regarded as Classics.

Poems with Multiple or Radical Dictional Shifts--THE BODY(*)

For Love Or Money

Poems with Multiple or Radical Dictional Shifts--SKY(*)

Go--And Whisper To Roses
Coming And Going: Part I (Passing Through Troy)
Environments (poem specifically mentions preference for informal diction)
The High
The Sky
Fate In Incognito
Psalm II
Liquid Links
Let Me Out (poem specifically mentions admiration for Wordsworth)
Naming The Baby
Definitive Things
For Jane (& Roger) But Certainly Not for Henry; or Barbarella (dedicated to Jane Fonda)
To Persuade A Lady

(*) Many poems in both THE BODY and SKY reflect the influence of the ideas of the 19th century English Romantic/pre-Symbolist poets--their Platonistic ideas generally; but specifically those of Wordsworth about (1)  "natural"  form--which came to be known in the 20th Cent. as Organic Form; and (2)  using natural diction and speech-patterns in poetry. Benedikt forces these ideas (perhaps to their limits) also--often switching rapidly back and forth in his early poetry between different types of natural speech and diction used in "everyday life"; and those used in more formal speech. (Audiotapes of Benedikt's poetry readings are sometimes startling in this respect. The tape library of Academy of American Poets in NYC, where Benedikt read from his early work several times in the '60's & early 70's, contains at least one). Diction-switching occurs both from poem-to-poem and within individual poems as well (Benedikt is obviously interested in treating his readers to a wide variety of poetic experiences in several esthetic areas). Cited above are a few of the poems in which sudden, radical dictional shifts such exists in natural, everyday American & other speech, may easily be found.

An article by Benedikt called "Poetry & Videotape: A Suggestion," published in 1978 in New Artists Video, ed. Gregory Battcock (E.P. Dutton), explores the connections between natural, spontaneous speech in modern poetry and its extraordinary capacity to reflect the reality in which humans live; and the feeling of  heightened "Realism" sought by later l970's filmmakers using the first types of non-cumbersome, light, flexible, & portable video cameras ever to reach the market. It's a quality which has dominated in contemporary films ever since the Directors of French "New Wave" Cinema led the way to getting a feeling of heightened naturalness into films by using hand-held cameras--as opposed to cameras mounted on tripods, booms, cranes or 'catbird seats'--back in the multi-disciplinarily highly significant breakthrough years of the l960's.  

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Acknowledgment Pages

(Transcribed below are the original Acknowledgment Pages for THE BODY and SKY, including names of literary magazines in which poems were first published)

THE BODY (Wesleyan University Press, l968)

Copyright © l962, l964, l965, l966, l967, l968 by Michael Benedikt

Many of these poems have previously appeared elsewhere. For permission to reprint them here, and for the assignments of copyrights, grateful acknowledgment is made to the editors of the following: Angel Hair, Ambit, Art & Literature, Choice, Lugano Review, Minnesota Review, Paris Review, Quarterly Review of Literature, The Sixties, and Translatlantic Review.

"Before Going On," "An Enormous Dangling Sack-Like Net," "The Eye," "Fraudulent Days," "Inside The Mystery," "Motions," "Pink Beds," "Procession," "The Saint," "Some Litanies," "Some Old Men," "A Strained Credulity," "Tears," "Time," "Thoughts," "Tulips," "The Villain," "A Visual Face," and "The Wings of the Nose" were first printed in Poetry.

Note 1/01: A group of poems from The Body published in l968 in Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, was awarded prize for Best Group of Poems published in Poetry during that year (Bess Hokin Prize)

(Hardbound & Paperback)
Library of Congress Catalog #: 68-27539

SKY (Wesleyan University Press, l970)

Copyright © l967, l968, l969, l970 by Michael Benedikt

Many of these poems have previously appeared in periodicals. For permissions to reprint and for copyright assignments, grateful acknowledgment is made to the editors and publishers of Ambit, Bennington Review, Chelsea, Kayak, Kenyon Review, London Magazine, Modern Poetry Studies, New American Review, Paris Review, The Seventies, Stand, Sumac and The World.

"Money," "On Earth," "Psalm I," "Psalm II," "Psalm III," "Psalm IV," "The Sky," "The Statue Speaks, " "Water," and "The Wonders of the Arm" first appeared in Poetry.

Hardbound: ISBN: 0-8195-2052-7
Paperback: ISBN: 0-8195-1052-1
Library of Congress Catalog #: 75-120257

Brief Benedikt Biography

(Complete bio. appears in Who's Who in America, World, Entertainment, etc.)

Note: Selections from Benedikt's other poetry books now appear at various   websites

Michael Benedikt has published five collections of poetry: The Badminton at Great Barrington; or, Gustave Mahler & The Chattanooga Choo-Choo (University of Pittsburgh Press, l980); and with Wesleyan Univ. Press, Night Cries (prose poems, l976); Mole Notes (prose poems, l971); Sky (l970); and The Body (l968). Anthologies of poetry under his editorship are The Prose Poem: An International Anthology (Dell/Laurel, l976); and The Poetry of Surrealism (Little Brown, l974). His anthologies of plays include three volumes co-edited with theater critic George E. Wellwarth: Modern French Theatre: The Avant-Garde, Dada, & Surrealism (E.P. Dutton, l964); Post-War German Theatre (Dutton, l967); & Modern Spanish Theatre (Dutton, l969). He is also the editor of Theatre Experiment: American Plays (Doubleday, l967). He is a former Associate Editor of Art News (l964-72) and Art International (l965-67). A former Poetry Editor of The Paris Review, his editorial selections are represented in The Paris Review Anthology (Norton, l990). His recent, l990's poetry has been published in New York Quarterly, Agni, Iowa Review, Jerusalem Review, Lips, Michigan Quarterly Review, The New Republic, The Paris Review, Partisan Review; and most recently once again in the The Paris Review (#151), which includes a long poem praising genius of Albert Einstein. Benedikt's work appears in numerous anthologies of US modern/contemporary poetry. His grants and awards have included an NEA Fellowship, a NY State Council On The Arts Grant, and a Guggenheim Grant. He has given many readings from his poetry--early & other--at colleges and bookstores around the USA; and has taught in English & Creative Writing Depts. at Bennington (1968-69), Sarah Lawrence (1969-73), Hampshire College (l973-75, and Vassar (l976-77); and at Boston University (1977 -79/80). Benedikt holds degrees from Columbia U. & NYU & lives in Manhattan, NYC. E-Mail at

Benedikt in painting by
Walter K. Gutman  

Above: Benedikt, in painting by Walter K. Gutman. In this rather funny rendering, the person in circus-tutu & boots at whom the poet is pointing a somewhat exaggerated nose is a circus-performer friend of painter. Besides being a painter & also an underground filmmaker, Gutman was a stock broker & Wall St. financial expert, who wrote weekly stock-market letters issued by Shields & Co. Painting appears in THE GUTMAN LETTER (Something Else Press, 1969), a selection of multi-talented Gutman's strangely poetic, & even somewhat lyrical stock-market letters edited by Benedikt between the publication of THE BODY (l968) and that of SKY (l970).(THE GUTMAN LETTER includes reproductions of a few of Gutman's paintings & also film-stills. With Jack Dreyfus of the famed Dreyfus Fund, Gutman was co-backer of the first US underground film, Pull My Daisy, which featured narration by Jack Kerouac & which starred among others, Allen Ginsberg). In sum: The later l960s' were busy, almost frenetically active & productive years for Benedikt. Besides BODY and SKY, his bios reference his Theatre Anthology-editing & his teaching activities as Visiting Prof. at two Colleges (Bennington & Sarah Lawrence) in the later 60's.


Home Page: Michael Benedikt: Early Books of Poetry--THE BODY and SKY

Selected Poems from THE BODY

Dark Love Poems

Especially Eerie Poems from THE BODY and SKY for Halloween
& Year-Round fans of Horror-&-Fright Poetry


Prose Poems & Microfictions, with Y2K updates of selections from Benedikt's fourth book
of poetry, Night Cries (1976); & a review of the book from The London Times Literary Supplement

Brief Prose Poems, with updates of shorter poems from Night Cries. Also an interview with Benedikt--mainly on prose poetry, & first published in Poetry Society of America Newsletter in the l980's, in 1998/9 update. Also essay, "Future of American Prose Poetry"

The Badminton at Great Barrington; or, Gustave Mahler & The Chattanooga Choo-Choo.
Selections from Benedikt's 5th poetry book, published in l980--tragic-comical poems about star-crossed lovers

The Thesaurus & Other New Verse. Selections from OF: --a Benedikt work-in-progress.
(Many poems from OF:   were published in various literary magazines in the '80's & '90's)

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