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Thematic Index to Michael Benedikt's THE BODY & SKY

Subject-Index To Topics Of Poems In Benedikt's First Two Books Of Poetry:

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

[Last Modified 10/01--with New Info & Photos. And  'Tears'--a 1960's poem presented here in memory of WTC Tragedy in NYC.
Prior '01 Site Modifications:  8/01 & 4/01 & 1/01. New in '01: Additional Notes & Photos]

An Educational Aid/College-Level Teacher/Student resource, this page indexes by topic all poems in both books.
General Readers & others may also enjoy Notes & Commentary, 1960's photos, etc.

New: Searchbox

Forthcoming: Additional Notes & Photos--& previews of selections from Sky later to appear at  Other Pages Of This Website.

General Note         Page Contents         Main Body-Sky Topics & Themes

Start of Indexing by Topic       Start of Sections of Index With Notes & Commentary

Benedikt's l960's  Poetry-&-Theatre  Events including  'Tears'--The Poem (& 60's  Event)

Benedikt in l969

Benedikt in his Manhattan apt. in l968--year in which The Body was completed
New 8/01: Photo of Benedikt in l962 --year 1st Body poems were written.

Book Jackets

                                         The Body                                                        Sky                                            Sky (Alternate Design)

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

                              [Illustration by Anonymous]                      [Painting by Tom Wesselmann]                        [Drawing by Charles Frazier]  

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 America's political history, in the Arts,
and in Cultural History generally, 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: Summary of Topics in THE BODY and SKY
Main Themes in The Body and Sky

     2.  Thematic Index: Topics, With Related /Poem-Titles
Main Themes in The Body and Sky: Poem-Titles
(With Notes & Commentary on some thematic categories. More Notes &Commentary to come)

3.  Orig. 'Acknowledgment Pages' for  BODY/SKY as printed by Wesleyan U, Press
Acknowledgment Pages
(With names of Literary Magazines in which poems first appeared)

4.  Brief Benedikt Biography/Bibliography
Brief Bio.

5.   Links to Other Pages of This Website and Selected Poems Online
Other Body/Sky Pages

6.  Selected External Benedikt Links
Sites Re Other Benedikt Poetry Books

Main Themes in THE BODY and SKY by Category

Thematic Categories with links in white & starred [*] are followed by Notes & Commentary
Notes on Topics so far provide info on Benedikt's philosophical concerns & multi-media interests
from 1962 to l969--the period during which both BODY and SKY were written

(Notes appear below titles of poems in 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.  2nd 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. For another early Benedikt photo, click  here.
(For a less stressed-out photo of Schneemann, in Benedikt's 1969 Poetry Event 'Tears,' click  here).

Click back up to Page Contents

Click down for start of Notes & Commentary Section of Thematic Index


Thematic Index:
Main Topics in THE BODY & SKY
& Titles of Poems Related to Those Topics
( includes Notes & Commentary on several Topics, starting with Philosophy )

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, like "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/ Overall theme of SKY is announced in its title poem "The Sky" which--expressing yearning for a 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--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--is reflected in 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--indeed, critiques of heavy-handed, conventional, pre-Web non-virtual "Reality" are implicitly present in all his poetry books). Sidelight: Interviews with Benedikt have appeared in (1) the critical festschrift, BENEDIKT: A PROFILE (Grilled Flowers Press, l978--interview by Naomi Shihab Nye); and in (2) The Falcon (a literary magazine issued by Mansfield State College, Pa., l976-- interview conducted by W.A. Blais. Rreprinted with revisions in Poesis: A Journal of Criticism , a periodical issued by Bryn Mawr College, Pa.,1987); and also in (3) The Poetry Society of America Newsletter (P.S.A. interview by Dennis Stone, l985). The PSA Interview is available online--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 BODY-SKY Love Poems category is forthcoming in '02. In the meantime, a new BODY-SKY webpage posted 1/01 & called Dark Love Poems is online at:  As of 10/01, ca 25,000 + visitors there so far.

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 official 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 sympathy with the rapidity & formally-liberated technique, mood & tone of much 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 SKY 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 & 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 he published in The Village Voice in l963, when Happenings were still relatively new. The article is reprinted in THEATER EXPERIMENT). T.E. also includes brief Intros to scripted Events). Re origins of The Happening (from Benedikt's Intro to 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 is perhaps best-known today as Abstract Expressionism). In Benedikt's case, an underlying love of thoughtful, meditative quietude--and 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 University Press, l971).

Book Jacket: Mole Notes (1971)
Above: Book-Jacket: MOLE NOTES (l971).  Jacket concept by Benedikt

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

Above: Book-Jacket : Alternative Design for SKY (l970), By Sculptor Charles Frazier

The more kinetic aspect of the formally highly explorative l960's Happening is suggested by the many dynamic, fast-moving poems in both THE BODY & SKY. This, despite the fact that (1) the poems themselves 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 technically wide-ranging poems of THE BODY and SKY. In sum: influences on Benedikt's early poetry were not primarily literary. Nor were they limited to influences from painting and the Manhattan 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. Tears as 1969 Event.

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

Above: 'Tears'--a 1969 pocket-sized Event (Happening) by Benedikt.  ( Poem appears below, followed by info on other later 1960's Benedikt poetry Events). Benedikt (at right, in "Sergeant Pepper"-type jacket) & Assistant (at left, with tray) are seen attaching tears with (water-soluble) glue to Carolee Schneemann. Schneemann's full-length Happening Meat Joy--pictured near top of site--was one of the leading Events of its kind during the '60's period. In 'Tears' (the Event) a tape was played of Benedikt reading a brief poem from THE BODY called 'Tears,' accompanied by gradual, ceremonious, tear-by-tear tear-attachment. The poem itself is a semi-visual work--of the "Concrete Poem" type, with a bow in the direction of later l960's 'Minimalist' Art. About half of 'Tears' consists of repetitions of the word "tears." The poem's partly a "Concrete" poem because it partly resembles its subject--tears being shed from some unnamed source on high--or perhaps falling raindrops descending on the printed page. During performance in 1969, the poem was repeated in the background several time at low volume 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." (Location of 'Tears'--the Event: Max's Kansas City Bar & Grille in Manhattan. Max's was a large, elegant establishment especially hospitable to art & artists which flourished in NYC in the later 60's).

'Tears' (the poem) will eventually be presented at the 2nd page of this 5-page Website: Selected Poems from THE BODY.
 In the meantime, here's a preview.

The Y2K+1 revision in this edition of page is in memory of the 9/01 World Trade Center tragedy in Manhattan, where Benedikt lives:


The  eyes  that  shower  down  upon  these fields
Must  certainly  be  suspended
From  some  highly  superior  elevation

To express such  sadness about our entire warring world

              tears                               tears
                              tears               tears
                                   tears          tears

And they run off  down a ditch far into the distance. . .


'Tears' as 1969 Event

Suggestion: info/documentation given above could serve as basis for a Y2K-era 'revival' performance of this brief theatre-piece.
For permission for any performance at which a fee is charged, contact Benedikt's agent: Georges Borchardt, Inc., 136 E. 57th St., NY, NY 10022. [212-753-5785. Fax: 212-838-6518]. Or, after performance, please send documentation to

Other Poem-Events by Benedikt performed after publication of THE BODY in l968 & during the composition of SKY, published in l970): Two Events, open to the general public, were staged in NYC at the Manhattan loft studio of a major 1960's painter Robert Rauschenberg. (Rauschenberg's quasi-Abstract Expressionist, quasi-Pop "Assemblagist" paintings have much in common with the collage-like, "mixed-media" & 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 2nd-- Selected Poems from THE BODY--page of this website). Like 'Tears,' 'Shoe' too was presented accompanied by poetry utilizing tape-loop--in "Shoe,' played by a tape-recorder hidden beneath a pile of shoes situated inside a Rauschenberg clothing-closet (the door, of course, was left open to audiences). The second event entailed projection of 8mm film images from dual 8mm film projectors onto loft walls, as taped poetry played in the background--presaging the numerous, far more elaborate presentations of poetry-&-video on Public Television beginning in the 1980's & continuing of course to this day. Both events were part of a group of events/happenings presented simultaneously in a single evening chez Rauschenberg. (Audience-members were free to choose which events the wished to pay attention to). A slightly later, related Benedikt event also entailed projected images, & took place at The Bandshell in NYC's Central Park. It was presented as part of an evening of events by John Giorno (poet & multi-media entrepreneur who organized & coordinated the occasion); writer/"happener" (& then also lingeree-designer) Hannah Weiner; poet art-critic John Perreaul; & 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 to this webpage in '02. In addition to the photo from 'Tears' at this Webpage, online at the URL given at bottom of this paragraph is the cover of Playbill for "Three Poetry Events." These 3 events by various hands were performed in a single evening of multi-media events at NYC's 92nd St "Y" Poetry Center. Benedikt organized that evening, & served as Master of Ceremonies for it. The "Y" events included Benedikt's poetry-&-dance event "Box." "Box," which was conceived by Benedikt, and which was based on a poem called "Box" written specifically for the occasion--involved 2 collaborators. "Box" (the 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 a series of 35mm still photos documenting "Box" by Charles Frazier--also appears at that Benedikt theatre site. We're told that Benedikt shot a 3-minute 8mm film of key scenes from the dance portion of "Box.".

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 collection especially) reflect the iconography of visual artists --particularly 'Pop' 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. He also authored feature articles on such painters as the early-20th-century French 'Intimist' painter Pierre Bonnard; and contemporary US artists Fairfield Porter, Jack Youngerman, and Sherman Drexler. From l965 to 1967, as one of only three 'New York Correspondents' responsible for covering all the major art exhibits in the entire N.Y.City metropolitan area, Benedikt also reviewed art exhibitions for the magazine Art International. The A.I. 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). Note: 'Minimalist Art' is (in brief) an art form in which highly simplified shapes & forms, such as painted or sculpted squares & rectangles, are placed in art & other settings so as to interact with their surroundings in a 'cool,' yet decidedly architectural manner. (Leaders of movement: Donald Judd and Robert Morris. A poem in SKY is dedicated to the latter). Click back up for info on Benedikt's Minimalist-mode Poem-Event  'Tears' (there's a return-link, at the words "Minimalist Art, back to here). An extensive article entitled "The Visionary French: l9th Century French Symbolist Poets & Painters," which appeared in Art News Annual 1966, was reprinted in The Grand Eccentrics, edited by John Ashbery and Thomas B. Hess (Collier Books, 1971). Note once again the multi-media, inter-disciplinary nature of Benedikt's activities in the mid & later '60's. (Websites of course are also interdisciplinary--simultaneously involving verbal & visual esthetic disciplines, etc. Benedikt has had a hand in the creation of circa 16 ( ! ) so far. Selected URLs--those directly related to other Benedikt book publications--are cited at close of this webpage). Sidelight: "Yoko Notes," which appeared in the British magazine Art & Artists in 1972, is a Benedikt feature article about a Retrospective Exhibition in Syracuse NY by the Asian-American conceptual artist Yoko Ono. Exhibition (entitled "You Are Not Here)" took place in 1971 at Syracuse's Everson Museum, where former Beatle (& by then also Ono's husband) John Lennon acted as Ono's co-spokesperson during press conferences with art critics such as Benedikt. Like the two London Magazine articles on film & theater referred to earlier (cf directly above photo of Carolee Schneemann in 'Tears'), "Yoko Notes" is illustrated by snapshots by Benedikt. Benedikt also took much interest in the later 1960's (& thereafter), in the work of another Japanese artist living in NYC: Yayoi Kusama. Ms. Kusama--influenced perhaps by the work of the Tokyo-based "Gutai" Group of happeners--experimented with works in Event-format, too. Some of those events Benedikt documented in photographs which we plan to present some of at this website in '02 or thereafter.

Benedikt taking photo at Art Gallery in London

Above: Benedikt photographing an environmental sculpture at an art gallery in London in l968.
(Sculpture is 'mirror-room' type, a form also explored by Kusama (tho' not by Ono).
Photog. is leaning through circular opening in wall of sculpture to take photo).

Photo: Yoko Ono &
John Lennon

Above: Benedikt  photograph of Yoko Ono and John Lennon at press conference at Everson Museum in Syracuse in l971.
Photo is among several by Benedikt used to illustrate Art & Artists article in 1972, Benedikt's last art article to date.
(With some earlier Benedikt art criticism, article re Ono/Lennon may be appended to this site in '02).

Although the visual arts were decidedly Benedikt's primary "extra-literary" area of interest during the later l960's, during that period he also wrote lyrics for songs. A couple were used in a couple of Hollywood feature films: "Out Of It" (starring Jon Voight) and "Jenny" (starrring Marlo Thomas & Alan Alda). Music was written by Michael Small, who later went on to become a leading Hollywood film composer. Info on Michael Small & on his distingished musical career & on his film scores--which include "Klute" (starring Jane Fonda & Donald Sutherland), "Marathon Man" (starring Dustin Hoffman & Laurence Olivier) and many other films--is available via search-box at any Hollywood film Site. Benedikt's Marquis' standard Library Reference Work Who's Who in Entertainment, which focusses on his work as a theatre anthologist, also mentions his brief career as film lyricist. New Info 8/01: Benedikt composed music for some of his song lyrics. Benedikt is formally affiliated as a songwriter with BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc)--which licenses rights for re-broadcast of recorded music of all kinds on radio, TV, etc. Affiliation began circa l966-7. An anthology called The Major Young Poets, ed. Al Lee (World Publishing Co., ca. l968), contains copyrighted lyrics and music of 3 of Benedikt's songs, published by April-Blackwood Music--then an affiliate of CBS. (Like copies of many of Benedikt's out-of-print books, Al Lee's anthology too can be located via the Search Engines). Others in The Major Young Poets are Bill Knott, James Tate, Charles Simic, Mark Strand, C.K. Williams & Marvin Bell.

(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 (incorporates "Concrete Poem," i.e., "Visual Poem" ingredient)
A Visual Face (also incorporates "Concrete Poem" ingredient)
An Enormous Dangling Sack-Like Net (pure Prose Poem--the only one in THE BODY (l968)
          or SKY (1970). Sidelight: Starting in 1970/71, Benedikt turned from verse--& wrote
          prose poems almost exclusively for nearly a decade. Some are collected in MOLE NOTES (1971).

Poems in Unusual Forms--SKY(*)

Four Psalms (poem with lines extending into biblical-type strophes. Verges 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  Sixties,
          "Event" was an alternative term used for "Happening"). Under Directorship of
          Beck, his troupe The Living Theater created several Happenings of epic
          proportions in USA & abroad, best known of which is "Paradise Now."
          "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 dynamics of 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, even quasi-sexual level
On The Lawn (free-verse poem which changes dramatically from seemingly improvised
          form to "List Poem")

Vertical Considerations ( " )
Site (begins free-form; 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. Poem ends by expressing fears about falling off of page).

(*) 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 anthology: Issued as a mass-market paperback--but by now legendarily scarce and currently available solely in libraries & in rare bookstores offline & via online Book Search Services such as those of &  (Barnes & Noble)--to this day a durable, hardcover edition of THE PROSE POEM has yet to be printed. Over the years, many have lamented that. 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 (named after Benedikt's prose poem anthology), wrote in his Preface to Issue #10 re what he termed 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 later, relatively recent Benedikt prose poem.

In Benedikt's onlne P.S.A. interview  (also referred to earlier in thse Notes), the poet 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 early & mid-l970's) into prose poems written as single paragraphs. (In many of his prose poems however, Benedikt breaks up his paragraphs into numbered sections like stanzas--which is unusual as prose poems go, & may even be globally unique. Such works represent prose poems verging on verse; & explore the as-yet-unnamed interface where both genres converge). Some of his published prose poems--particularly the lengthier ones--also pre-figure the "Microfiction" form. Benedikt's return to 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.: This Bibliography cites books actually by this Michael Benedikt. Some other Biblios on Web. cite books by 2 other Michael Benedikt/s. (In other areas than poetry--writing about architecture and virtual reality, to be precise--poet Michael 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 took several years to prepare & which includes poems translated in the Sixties--was published in 1974, just 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 French Surrealism--and who in turn influenced (for example), the "kinetic" aspect of most Happenings. Also forthcoming: A few notes on Benedikt's brief association with the first generation of the poets of the so-called "New York School"--who were among American poets his senior who Benedikt most admired; & the influence of whose work helped to shape his early 1960's poetry. (Some of Benedikt's earliest poems reflecting sympathy with Surrealist perspectives & N.Y. School perspectives as well, appeared in short poems in a tiny small-press chapbook entitled Changes (New Fresco, Inc., l961). (Chief among Benedikt's admirations in l961, he reports, were N.Y. School poets Kenneth Koch, Frank O'Hara & John Ashbery). Sidelights (1) In l962, Benedikt was briefly Managing Editor for the very first NY School literary magaze, Locus Solus, edited by  Koch, Ashbery, Harry Mathews and James Schuyler. (2) The BODY/SKY 'Dark Love Poems' Webpage includes a poem called "Divine Love" which is dedicated to Robert Bly. (It was first published in the lively, upstart lit. mag. The Sixties, which Bly edited). 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 which Benedikt insisted on teaching re exactly contemporary poetics; 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 several of the poets he taught--including most of those referred to above--as well as James Wright, James Dickey, Erica Jong; & others. Benedikt's surviving course syllabuses/ 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) about  using natural diction and speech-patterns in poetry. Benedikt forces those ideas (perhaps to their limits) also--often rapidly switching back and forth in his early poetry between different types of natural speech and diction used in "everyday life"; and those speech-patterns used in more formal types of utterance. (Audiotapes of Benedikt's poetry readings are sometimes startling in that respect. The tape library of Academy of American Poets in NYC--for which Benedikt read from his early work several times in the '60's & early 70's-- contains at least one example). 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 as exist in natural, everyday American 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 complex, highly diverse reality in which we humans live; and the feeling of heightened "Realism" sought by later l970's U.S. filmmakers using the first types of non-cumbersome, light, flexible, & portable video cameras ever to reach the market. Actually, it's a quality which appeared in forward-looking contemporary film-making with the Directors of French "New Wave" Cinema (Truffault, Godard et al), who 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 l962-1970

Summer Arts Festival Program at The New School for Social Research,  1962.
At Right:  Benedikt in l962, year in which the 1st poems collected in The Body were written.
Program was coordinated by Carole F. Schwartz, television & children's theatre producer.
Benedikt was chosen for the series by Kenneth Koch, then a teacher at The New School.
Others here: Richard Griffith, Museum of Modern Art Film Library Curator; Oscar Brand, folksinger;
Anita Sheer, flamenco musician;  Art Farmer, jazz instrumentalist.


(Transcribed below are the original Acknowledgment Pages for THE BODY and SKY,
with 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 : 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; Who's Who in The World,
Who's Who in American Art;  Who's Who in Entertainment, etc.)

Note: Selections from Benedikt's other poetry books appear at various other   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. Latter poem is scheduled to appear in '02 at a site featuring Benedikt's New Verse). Benedikt's poems appear 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. Benedikt has taught in English & Creative Writing Depts. at Bennington (1968-69), Sarah Lawrence (1969-73), Hampshire College (l973-75), Vassar (l976-77); and at Boston University (1977-79/80); & has given many readings from his poetry--early & other--at colleges and universities around the USA. New Info: Benedikt has recently read from his work at various Barnes & Noble 'superstores' in the NY Metro area. He holds degrees from Columbia University (M.A. in Comparative Literature) & NYU (B.A. in English & Journalism). Benedikt lives in Upper West Side Manhattan, NYC.

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 several other Gutman paintings--& also film-stills. Gutman was co-backer--with Jack Dreyfus of the famed Dreyfus Fund--of the first US underground film, Pull My Daisy. Film features narration by Jack Kerouac & stars among others, Allen Ginsberg).In sum: The mid-to-later l960s' were busy, almost frenetically active & productive years for Benedikt. Besides writing BODY and SKY, reviewing for two world-class art magazines (Art News & Art International), editing 4 anthologies of plays, designing Happening-style theatre events & publishing numerous translations as well, his bios reference teaching activities as Visiting Prof. at two Colleges (Bennington & Sarah Lawrence), & various readings given at many other colleges & universities across the USA. (New Info: Benedikt also wrote plays during the period. Playbill of one appears at Theatre, Film & TV Poems. More about that in a future edition of this Website).


Home Page: Michael Benedikt: Early Books of Poetry--THE BODY and SKY
(with 1968 & 1998 photos of author & a more complete bio.)

Selected Poems from THE BODY
(with large selection of poems)

Dark Love Poems
New Page in '01

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

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Brief Prose Poems Y2K-era updates of shorter poems from Benedikt's 4th poetry book, Night Cries (1976).
Also, Interview with Benedikt first published in Poetry Society of America Newsletter in the l980's,
in 1998-99 update. Also essay on "Future of American Prose Poetry."

Prose Poems & Microfictions Updates of selections from Night Cries; & a review of the book from
The London Times Literary Supplement
. With info on The Prose Poem: An Internationl Anthology (1977).

The Badminton at Great Barrington; or, Gustave Mahler & The Chattanooga Choo-Choo.
Selections from author's 5th poetry book, published in l980. Tragi-comical verse about lovers
crossed not so much by their stars as by their psychologies. Book tells story & unfolds like a film.


The Thesaurus & Other New Verse. Selections from a work-in-progress entitled OF:
Many poems from OF: have been published in leading US literary magazines in the '80's & '90's.
(Manuscript's been in work for almost 20 years)

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