David Antin, a poet and performance artist who was best known for his extemporaneous spoken narratives known as “talk poems,” died Oct. 11 at a hospital in La Jolla, Calif. He was 84.
He had complications from a fall at his home and had Parkinson’s disease, said publisher Douglas Messerli, who edited many of his works.
In the 1970s, Mr. Antin began to develop a hybrid form of storytelling that was a combination of poetry, spoken meditation and critical essay in which he discussed issues or intellectual concepts in front of an audience. The performances were recorded and later revised by Mr. Antin into written works that became known as talk poems.
Mr. Antin, who was known as a spellbinding conversationalist, often developed his poetry around a particular topic, which he embellished with background research, bits of autobiography, philosophical musings and other ideas connected by rhythm, metaphor and repetition. The printed versions of his poems often dispensed with standard margins and capitalization.
David Abraham Antin was born Feb. 1, 1932, in Brooklyn. After the death of his father, his mother worked in the garment business.
Mr. Antin was drawn to the writings of Gertrude Stein and determined at age 16 to be a poet. He graduated from the City College of New York in 1955 and worked as a translator of German and Russian scientific texts. He received a master’s degree in linguistics from New York University in 1966.
He was a founding editor of the Chelsea Review in the 1960s. His early poetry explored scientific language and elements of visual art.
In addition to his poetry, Mr. Antin wrote critical essays on art, including early studies of such artists as Andy Warhol, Sol LeWitt and Roy Lichtenstein. Many of his critical works were collected in “Radical Coherency: Selected Essays on Art and Literature” (2011).
Mr. Antin had taught in the visual arts department of the University of California at San Diego from the late 1960s to the 1990s.
Survivors include his wife of 55 years, artist and filmmaker Eleanor Fineman Antin; a son; and two grandchildren.
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