Ugly Duckling Presse

All Nightmare: Introductions, 2011–2012
All Nightmare: Introductions, 2011–2012

Josef Kaplan

Essay | $12 $10
Buy"Hyperbolic, absurd, overwrought, and blindingly true."

All Nightmare collects Josef Kaplan's "introductions," written to be performed as prefatory remarks for the two seasons of New York’s Segue Reading Series that he curated in 2011 and 2012. These hyperbolic readings of 14 writers (among them Chris Kraus, Anne Boyer, Harmony Holiday, and Trisha Low) travesty acceptable norms, both social and critical, of what can be said in the context of the “poetry reading,” and therefore in the context of the public spaces of poetry. Kaplan treats the introduction as an Oulipian, procedural form, both honoring and disfiguring his subjects’ writing through acrobatic feats of code switching, and manic, paranoid interpretations of Marxist, Freudian, and even Satanic criticism. Not simply a farcical verbal performance, Kaplan's analytic distortions remain relevant to contemporary dialogues on poetics, and challenge readers of poetry to engage and examine their expectations for its consumption.

Excerpt ˇ


I think we can all agree that life is simply not interesting. And literature’s strange claim to represent it most acutely: simply obnoxious. The idea that we read to discover… whatever… about how we live, that literature, in one way or another, can demonstrate this essence through some maintained ontological proximity to the undifferentiated conditions of “reality,” is ridiculous.  

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About the Author

Josef Kaplan

Josef Kaplan is the author of All Nightmare: Introductions, 2011-2012 (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2014), Kill List (Cars Are Real, 2013), and Democracy Is Not for the People (Truck Books, 2012). His recent work has appeared in Lana Turner, Rethinking Marxism, The Claudius App, and the Poetic Labor Project. He lives in Queens.

Advance Praise

One of the highest rewards within poetry-culture is the attention poets pay to each other's work. That's it, really. That's pretty much the whole deal. Never afraid to play the idiot-savant, Josef Kaplan dives into the heart of each writer's work and returns with an understanding that is hyperbolic, absurd, overwrought, and blindingly true.—Chris Kraus