Stephen Colbert interviewed poet Kenneth Goldsmith on the July 23, 2013 episode of Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report. The segment focused on Goldsmith’s latest book of poetry, Seven American Deaths and Disasters, which released in Spring 2013 and was recently reviewed in The New York Times. Drawing from archived transcripts of radio broadcasts live during the disasters, the book emphasizes how modern media language and jargon deteriorates in the face of unimaginable, tragic events. Goldsmith includes chapters on the deaths of JFK, RFK, John Lennon, and Michael Jackson and the Columbine shooting, September 11th, and Challenger Shuttle disasters.
“Every transcription has the mark of its own era on it. So this is a beautiful, you know, naive, sort of fantasy time, that is punctuated by an assassination, or a shooting, at that point, of a president, and it shatters the entire illusion… These guys who are broadcasting this are not prepared in any way for this to happen, and suddenly they are improvising. They’re riding by the seat of their pants, and they’re making it up as they go along. And this happens again, and again, and again.”
Watch the full episode with Goldsmith’s interview by clicking the image:
Seven American Deaths and Disasters
by Kenneth Goldsmith