Barbara Henning

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Recent publications and Excerpts from Reviews of My Autobiogrpahy


"Dear Hunting" – Forthcoming in print newspaper, The Brooklyn Rail, Winter 2008 (

From "An Arc Falling Into the Bougainvillea." Reconfigurations: A Journal for Poetics and Poetry / Literature and Culture. Issue 1, 2007.

"Cities and Memory". Photographs and Text. Upcoming at Cyberpoems.
Originally published by Imaginary Cities, a journal connected with an exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Detroit, entitled "Shrinking Cities", 2007. Also as a limited edition photo-poem booklet (Long News).

From "The Animal I am". Talisman: A Journal of Contemporary Poetry and Poetics. Number 34. Winter/Spring 2007.

"Little Tesuque." In Eoagh, Issue four. 2007

"Seventh Street" Forthcoming in Zen Monster, Issue #1, 2008.

"A Telephone Interview with Maureen Owen on Erosion's Pull." Talisman, Number 35, Fall 2007. WILL BE AVAILABLE SHORTLY ON MY WEBSITE AS A PDF.


My Autobiography, reviewed by Mark Terrill in Rain Taxi, Print Version, Vol 12, No 2., Summer 2007

The idea for Barbara Henning's book My Autobiography stems from a collaboration with the artist Miranda Maher, who clipped off the corners of 999 books from Henning's personal library for an installment entitled "999." Henning then constructed a series of seventy-two untitled sonnet-like poems consisting of seven couplets each—selecting a word, phrase, or passage from each of the 999 books, using alliteration as a rough common denominator. . . .The result is a neo-Oulipian synaptic joyride through a series of evocative, hilarious, and surprising contrasts, parallels, and combinations. At the end of the book is a comprehensive index listing all of the various sources for each individual line. One can either read the poems just as they are, letting the lines play off the mind and ear without knowing who wrote what, or one can work their way through wile comparing each line with the index, only to be all the more amazed at how seamless and fluid the transitions actually are, who's doing it with whom, and what magic has been created in the process. . . . While the use of such generative constraints is nothing new, My Autobiography is not just a derivative spin-off from William Burrough's cut-up oeuvre or Ted Berrigan's The Sonnets, nor is it just another cento exercise in the vein of John Ashberry's "The Dong with the Luminose Nose." It was Oulipo member Harry Mathews who said that "writing the truth means not representation but invention"; in My Autobiography, by way of a deft combination of constraints and supple editing, Barbara Henning has conjured up a sort of truth by proxy by merely letting the language speak for itself in an inventive way.

My Autobiography (United Artists 2007) Reviewed by Bill Kushner in The Poetry Project Newsletter, December 2007/January 2008.

These sonnets are truly Objectivist creatures (Henning dedicates her book to Louis Zukofsky). What's more interesting about these poems to me? Woven, as they are, with the raw material of language I think they are often funny, and they give a picture of our times and poetics in a weird way. . . . It's stuff like this that refreshes the language. It's langaue giving back to language the beauty of the unexpected. . . . I strongly urge more readers to take My Autobiography in hand, and find your own favorite passages in this most challenging and adventurous book.



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