Eastern Michigan University
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Rob Halpern

613F Pray-Harrold




PhD, University of California

Interests and Expertise

Rob Halpern is the author of two books of poems,  Rumored Place  (Krupskaya 2004), which was nominated for a California Book Award, and  Disaster Suites (Palm Press 2009), as well as several chapbooks, including Weak Link (Slack Buddha 2009) and Imaginary Politics (TapRoot Editions 2008). His new project,Music for Porn, is forthcoming next year (Nightboat Books). With Taylor Brady, he also co-authored the book length poem  Snow Sensitive Skin  (Atticus/Finch 2007), soon to be reissued by Displaced Press in an expanded edition.

In his poetry, Halpern's writing activates a lyric voice shot-through with linguistic debris and media fallout. In the confusion of our current geo-political conflicts, his poems make the fatal abstractions of crisis audible—finance, militarization, war—by implicating the lyric voice in the materialization of those abstractions. The short lyric poems that comprise Disaster Suites, for example, formally register the rhythms and affects of everyday life—longing and rage, lust and disgust—as they collide with the representations of many devastating events, from Hurricane Katrina to the war in Iraq. 

In addition to writing poetry, Halpern is an essayist and a translator, as well as a scholar of modern culture and contemporary writing. His essay on Baudelaire's prose poems recently appeared in Modernist Cultures A new essay entitled “Realism and Utopia: Writing, Sex, and Politics in New Narrative” will appear inJournal of Narrative Theory. Currently, he’s co-editing the poems of the late Frances Jaffer, together with Kathleen Fraser, and translating the early essays of Georges Perec, the second of which, “Commitment or the Crisis of Language,” can be found in the  Review of Contemporary Fiction  with an essay of his own on Perec. 

His poetry and narratives also appear in a range of reviews, anthologies, zines, and journals. Most recently these include:  The Poetic Front , The Swan’s Rag, Chicago Review, Bay Poetics, James White Review, Galatea ResurrectsAbraham Lincoln, P-Queue, Gam, Submodern FictionEOAGHWar and Peace, Switchback, Crayon, /norVanitasLittle Red Leaves, West Wind Review, Aufgabe, WheelhouseTry!, and New American Writing. His essays can be found in Biting the Error: Writers Explore Narrative (Coach House Books),  No Gender: The Work of kari edwards (Belladonna / Litmus Press, 2009),  ON: Contemporary Practice , and Jacket Magazine . Audio files of Halpern’s readings and talks are archived at PennSound.

Halpern received his Ph.D. in Literature from the University of California, Santa Cruz (2006), where he wrote a dissertation on the prehistory of literary modernism in nineteenth-century France. He’s held faculty positions at Bard College, San Francisco Art Institute, and University of San Francisco. He's also an active participant in the Nonsite Collective, whose commitment to self-organized pedagogy and collaboration across disciplines models some of the outreach and community work we seek to initiate in our program.


Recent Publications and Presentations