Poetry. Literary Nonfiction. At times ironic and sincere, optimism colors every interaction, transaction, and action absorbed into the mockingbird diction of MOSTLY CLEARING. This repetitive impulse privileges idiom and anachronism as means of indexing specific generational affects. Throughout, Gottlieb's speaker addresses three generations of poets: the New York School, his own milieu of Language Writers, and the younger generation whose artistic practice is situated by precarity, instability, and disillusionment. The speaker sympathizes with the latter, nostalgic for "all the swooning certainty of youth/ . . . here once it sprouted in all directions." In the end, hope is what the speaker bequeaths to younger poets as the raw material for imagining a new utopian art.
Michael Gottlieb is a poet and the author of twenty-one books. In addition to numerous collections of poetry, his published work also includes memoirs and essays. His most recent titles are MOSTLY CLEARING (Roof Books, 2019), WHAT WE DO: ESSAYS FOR POETS (Chax Press, 2016), I HAD EVERY INTENTION (Faux Press, 2014), DEAR ALL (Roof Books, 2013), Letters to A Middle Aged Poet (Otoliths, 2012), The Dust (Roof Books, 2011), MEMOIR AND ESSAY (Faux Press, 2010). A first- generation member of the Language Poetry school, he helped edit one of its foundational magazines, Roof. He was also the publisher of Case/Casement Books (1981-1999) and started the Last Tuesday multi-media performance series at La Mama in NYC in the 1980s.
Several of his works have also been adapted for the stage, including excerpts from MOSTLY CLEARING, adapted by Genée Coreno and The Dust, his authoritative 9/11 poem which the dramatist Fiona Templeton staged at the St. Marks Poetry Project on the 10th anniversary of the attacks. In addition, in the fall of 2021, for the twentieth anniversary of 9/11, a new version of The Dust, directed by Genée Coreno was staged along with an adaptation of The Voices, also staged by Genée Coreno, both under the auspices of The Poetry Project.