Rob Couteau    Early Poems



Poems from the late twentieth century was published as a chapbook in a limited edition of about fifty copies in the spring of 1978, several months after Couteau's twenty-first birthday. It was produced with the help of Spencer Seidman, who designed the layout and assembled the special covers for the project.

Each cover was unique. While the front-cover image was more or less the same for each edition - a photo of Nikita Khrushchev smiling before the pyramids in Egypt - the insides of the front and back covers featured a dazzling variety of brightly colored photomontage, each a one-of-a-kind. These were created with the use of "waysheets" (discarded pages left over from previous printing projects), which were run through the press a second time, thus superimpos-ing new images upon the previous ones. The chapbook was printed by Seidman at the Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester.

Shortly after its publication, six copies were purchased by the owner of the Phoenix Bookstore in Greenwich Village, Manhattan. They were bought with funds from the "Phoenix Project," which acquired small-press publications for a number of universities throughout the USA. As a result of this serendipitous sale, poems from the late twentieth century is now part of the Special Collections of the following libraries: New York University, Yale University Library, Colby College, Michigan State University Libraries, Northwestern University, and UCLA Library.

The poems explore a playful, ironic, Pop-Art imagery and are composed in a highly rhythmical style. Although radically different from Couteau's later, mature work, they capture his love of language and willingness to experi-ment.

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Couteau was born in Brooklyn, NY, and studied fine arts at the State University of New York, at New Paltz. In the mid-1980s he was director of a nonprofit agency that provided advocacy, housing, and counselling for former psychiatric patients, in New York City. In 1985 he won the Fourth Annual North American Essay Award, a competition open to writers throughout North America and sponsored by the American Humanist Association. He has published poetry, fiction, essays, and reviews in such publications as The Alembic; Anima; Arete; Bloomsbury Review; Cadillac Cicatrix; Chrysalis; Colere; Confluent Educational Journal; Croton Review; The European; Footwork; The Garden State; The Hawaii Pacific Review; Heavenbone; The Humanist; The Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy; Lapis; Lift Magazine; The Montague Reporter; New Leaves Review; The Paris Voice; Passager; Quantum; Raintaxi; Rockhurst Review; Spring; The Taylor Trust; Venice Magazine; Versitude; West Hills Review; White Pelican Review; Xanadu; and Z Miscellaneous.

After living in Paris for twelve years, he returned to the U.S. in December 2000. He currently resides in upstate New York.


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Created: 24 March 2010

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Rob Couteau.
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