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Free Poems



From:        Charles Bernstein

Subject:     Re: UCLA Art/Poetry Project

Date:          March 14, 2004 3:13:29 PM PST

 To:             Biddy Tran­

 Date:          March 14, 2004 3:13:29 PM PST


It would be great to have some really current stuff from you ...


I am interested in your assumption that what's on the web is not "new" ("really current'): doesn't the technology of the web allow for the most immediate distribution of the most current work? If I send you something not on the web, isn't that more because it is worked held back from the web, and in that sense less  free? It was because you wanted to emphasize the distribution of "free" art work that I directed you to the poems on the web. This is different for poetry than visual art, because poems are not worth anything in monetary terms but a whole lot in aesthetic and social terms.


If this makes sense, to you, pick a poem of mine already available free, on line, and redistribute it. Include this letter if you like.


If you want me to send you a work not on line, which I will, you must write back and tell me why this would be more appropriate for your project.


From:          Biddy Tran

To:              Charles Bernstein

Subject:        Re: UCLA Art/Poetry Project

Date:            Mar 14, 2004 9:14 PM


Mr. Bernstein,


First of all, I have to apologize for assuming that because you gave me a link rather than emailing me the poems yourself, you didn't want to bother with actually "donating" something.  Obviously I was wrong!  The idea of "donating" as a charitable gesture is sort of what's behind the project, not really whether or not it is on the web.  I think I emphasized the wrong thing in my last email...it's more that I want you to specify which poems to download.  It would probably be easier for me to go around the web downloading hundreds of poems, but that would be more like taking instead of being given something.  At the same time, I realize that gifts are not freer than taken things--they're both without  charge.  I chose poems particularly because "they are not worth anything in monetary terms," and the idea of donating a poem is sort of ridiculous and paradoxical for a variety of reasons.  These are problems I hope will come through in the piece.   


So, in the spirit of "donation" and "free" but not really, ideally you would actually donate something, in other words pick out something yourself. But, really, if you strongly believe that it would be most appropriate to the project for me to choose something I'm not going to argue--I'm just happy to even have this discussion with you!  So if you're in the mood to send something, great.  If not, equally great!


Thanks again,



From:               Charles Bernstein

Subject:     Re: UCLA Art/Poetry Project

Date:             March 15, 2004 8:57:40 AM PST

To:                    Biddy Tran


Here you go! Good luck!




Free Poems
ongoing & interactive installation
dimensions variable