Andrew S. Guthrie was born in New York City, lived most of his life in Boston, Massachusetts USA and moved to Hong Kong in 2005. In Boston, he exhibited at the Boston Institute for Contemporary Art in 1996 and was awarded a Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellowship in Photography in 2003. His artist edition “Broken Records: 1960 -1969” has been collected by The Brooklyn Museum of Art and is available from Printed Matter in New York City. In Hong Kong he has exhibited at The Shanghai Street Artspace, Videotage, C&G Artpartment and most recently at 100ft.PARK. In 2012 he established www.likink.com, a Hong Kong based site for the distribution and production of artist book/editions. He has previously been published on the websites of Make Do Studios and Weaponizer and in the print magazine Poetry is Dead.
At the Proverse Readers’ Club, Dymocks Books and Cafe, Discovery Bay, Hong Kong, Saturday, 9 April 2016, Andrew S Guthrie told us how his debut work of poetry, “Alphabet”, a finalist for the 2013 Proverse Prize came about, including the influence a particular small specialised poetry bookshop in Boston had had on him, growing up. Particularly interesting was his own certainty that the collection reflected an American experience; while more than one of the members of the group saw it as dealing with topics applicable without reference to a particular country.
An edited video of this sesssion can be viewed at https://youtu.be/pP82L2jaESo
Alphabet consists of twenty-six poems concerning the vagaries of failure, the underrated opposite of success. But in this case, the context of failure necessarily includes the genre of contemporary poetry, that most disabused yet over-abundant mode of expression. Why would anyone choose to express themselves in a manner that automatically narrows the readership, even after dispensing with avant-garde ambitions? – Precisely because its condition might lend itself to the aimless, useless or extra-economic moments when success can be turned on its head. And though the poet might be prone to the audience’s neglect, history itself is rife with countless examples of spectacular literary failures (as addressed in Alphabet), whether these traumas are eventually redeemed or forever lost. These examples include: misplaced manuscripts, writer’s block, articulate illiterates, libraries that were burned to the ground, posthumous fame for the previously poverty-stricken, botched yet endlessly repeated translations, along with the obvious shortcomings of the dilettante, the over-inflated ego, and the perennial loser.
“Andrew Guthrie is a poet’s poet, and his collection Alphabet views life through the lens of the written world…He explores the impermanence and the irresistibility of the written word: a topic that both troubles and delights him. These poems portray writing as a cave, ventured into by the naked poet.” Viki Holmes, author of miss moon’s class.
“There is a metaphysical grittiness and vibrant wordplay to these twenty-six poems about the actualities of poetics and history which make Alphabet a pageturner.” John King, director of the Drunken Odyssey literary podcast.
“Alphabet reminds us of what it is like to both drown and float in the spaces language and literature create.” Daniel Zomparelli, editor of the print magazine Poetry Is Dead.
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