Dennis Cooper  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Dennis Cooper (born 1953) is an American poet, writer and performance artist, intellectual, francophile and prolific blogger.



Cooper grew up the son of a wealthy businessman in Pasadena, California. His literary aspirations were explored early on and often took the form of imitations of Rimbaud, Verlaine, De Sade, and Baudelaire. He wrote poetry and stories in his early teens that explored scandalous and often extreme subjects. As a teenager, Cooper was an outsider and the leader of a group of poets, punks, stoners and writers. After high school he attended Pasadena City College and later Pitzer College where he encountered a poetry teacher who was to inspire him to pursue his writing outside of institutions of higher learning.

In 1976 Cooper went to England to become involved in the nascent punk scene In the same year he began Little Caesar Magazine.

In 1979, Cooper became the director of programming at an alternative poetry space, Beyond Baroque, in Venice, California. During his tenure such artists as Tim Miller, Eric Bogosian and Jessica Hagedorn gave performances. He also curated shows that included works by Sherrie Levine and Bob Flanagan, Peter Schjeldahl, Kenward Elmslie, Gerard Malanga, and Jack Skelley. In 1984, Cooper moved to New York City. In 1987 he moved to Amsterdam where he finished writing Closer which took as inspiration a postcard that featured an image of Mickey Mouse carved onto the back of a young boy. Cooper later won the Ferro-Grumley for gay literature for Closer.

While in Amsterdam he also wrote articles for different American magazines including Art in America, The Advocate, the Village Voice and others. He returned to New York in 1987 and began writing articles and reviews for Artforum, eventually becoming a Contributing Editor of the magazine. He began working on his next novel, Frisk. In the next few years Cooper worked on several different art and performance projects including co-curating an exhibit at LACE with Richard Hawkins entitled AGAINST NATURE: A Group Show of Work by Homosexual Men.

After moving to Los Angeles from New York in 1990, Cooper collaborated with a number of artists, including composer John Zorn, painter Lari Pittman, sculptors Jason Meadows and Nayland Blake, and others. He is the editor of the Kathy Acker Reader, and of the "Little House on the Bowery" Series for Akashic Books, which has published works by Travis Jeppesen, Richard Hell, and others. He completed his renowned, ten years in the writing sequence of five interconnected novels, 'The George Miles Cycle,' in the year 2000. The cycle has been translated into 17 foreign languages. Since then he has written three novels: 'My Loose Thread,' The Sluts' (winner of the Lammy Award for best book of gay fiction of 2005), and 'God Jr'.

Since the summer of 2005, Cooper has spent most of his time in Paris, France. While there, he has worked on his wildly popular blog, which Cooper considers his current major artistic project, and has collaborated with the French theater director Gisele Vienne and composer Peter Rehberg on four works for the theater, 'I Apologize' (2004), 'Un Belle Enfant Blonde' (2005), 'KIndertotenlieder' (2007), and a stage adaption of his novella 'Jerk' (2008). These theater works have been highly acclaimed and have toured extensively in Europe and the UK. While in France, Cooper finished a new book of poetry, 'The Weaklings,' due to be published by Void Books in November 2007, and he is currently completing a not yet titled collection of short fiction.

George Miles cycle

In the spring of 2000 Cooper published Period, the last of a series of five novels known as the George Miles cycle (ISBNs refer to the Grove Press paperback editions):

"… [I]n the ninth grade Cooper met his beloved friend George Miles. Miles had deep psychological problems and Cooper took him under his wing. Years later, when Cooper was 30, he had a brief love affair with the 27-year-old Miles. The cycle of books … came later, and were an attempt by Cooper to get to the bottom of both his fascination with sex and violence and his feelings for Miles."
      — 3:AM magazine, November 2001, "American Psycho: An Interview With Dennis Cooper" by Stephen Lucas [1]

"George in Closer, whose room is full of Disney figures, himself becomes the toy of two forty-year-old men obsessed with the beauty of pain and suffering. In Frisk, an ex-friend is writing Julian letters: reports or fantasies of sex and violence. The description of the sexual murdering of young men is a melange of blood and slippery internal organs, too unappetizing to quote. The letters are being sent from a Holland windmill, in its isolation an ideal place for exploring the raw reality of sex, violence and death."
      — VPRO Television; article in Dutch [2]

Other books

  • 'The Terror of Earrings' (poetry, Kinks Press, 1973)
  • 'Tiger Beat' (poetry, Little Caesar Press, 1978)
  • 'Antoine Monier' (fiction, Anon Press, 1978)
  • 'Idols' (poetry, SeaHorse Press, 1979; Amethyst Press, 1989)
  • 'Tenderness of the Wolves' (poetry, The Crossing Press, 1981)
  • 'The Missing Men' (poetry, Am Here Books/ Immediate Editions, 1981)
  • 'My Mark' (fiction, Sherwood Press, 1982)
  • 'Safe' (novella, SeaHorse Press, 1985)
  • 'He Cried' (poetry, Black Star Series, 1985)
  • "Wrong" (short fiction, Grove Press, 1992)
  • "The Dream Police: Selected Poems '69-93' (Grove Press, 1994)
  • "Jerk" (collaboration with artist Nayland Blake, Artspace Books, 1994)
  • "Horror Hospital Unplugged" (graphic novel, Juno Books, 1997)
  • "All Ears" (criticism, journalism, Soft Skull Press, 1997)
  • "My Loose Thread" (novel, Canongate, 2002)
  • "The Sluts" (novel, Void Books, 2004 / Carroll & Graf, 2005)
  • "God Jr." (novel, Grove Press, 2005)
  • "Dennis" (CD/book, Don Waters Editions/AK Press, 2006)
  • "The Weaklings" (Void Books, November 2007)

Works written for the theater

  • "Jerk" (Director: Gisele Vienne, Score: Peter Rehberg/Pita; world premiere, March, 2008)
  • "Kindertotenlieder" (Director: Gisele Vienne, Score: Stephen O'Malley and Peter Rehberg/Pita; 2007)
  • 'Un Belle Enfant Blonde" (Co-written with Catherine Robbe Grillet, Director: Gisele Vienne, Score: Peter Rehberg/Pita; 2005)
  • "I Apologize" (Director: Gisele Vienne, Score: Peter Rehberg/Pita; 2004)
  • "The Undead" (Director: Ishmael Houston-Jones, Score: Tom Recchion; Visual Design: Robert Flynt; 1990)
  • "Knife/Tape/Rope" (Director: Ishmael Houston-Jones, Sets: John De Fazio; 1985)
  • "Them" (Director: Ishmael Houston-Jones, Score: Chris Cochrane; 1984)


  • Little Caesar Magazine #s 1 - 12 (1976 - 1982)
  • Little Caesar Press (1978 - 1982)
    • Dennis Cooper 'Tiger Beat' (LCP)
    • Gerard Malanga '100 Years Have Passed' (LCP)
    • Arthur Rimbaud' 'Travels in Abyssinia and the Harar' (LCP)
    • Tom Clark 'The End of the Line' (LCP)
    • Tim Dlugos 'Je Suis Ein Americano' (LCP)
    • Tim Dlugos 'Entre Nous' (LCP)
    • Joe Brainard 'Nothing to Write Home About' (LCP)
    • Elaine Equi 'Shrewcrazy' (LCP)
    • Amy Gerstler 'Yonder' (LCP)
    • Elieen Myles 'Sappho's Boat' (LCP)
    • Oswell Blakeston 'Journies End in Young Man's Meeting' (LCP)
    • Dennis Cooper, editor 'Coming Attractions: American Poets in their Twenties' (LCP)
    • Ron Koertge 'Diary Cows' (LCP)
    • Peter Schjeldahl 'The Brute' (LCP)
    • Donald Britton 'Italy' (LCP)
    • Jack Skelley 'Monsters' (LCP)
    • James Krusoe 'Jungle Girl' (LCP)
  • 'Discontents: New Queer Writers' (Amethyst Press, 1994)
  • 'The Kathy Acker Reader' (w/ Amy Scholder, Grove Press, 2004)
  • Little House on the Bowery/Akashic Press (2004 - ?)
    • Travis Jeppesen 'Victims' (LHotB)
    • Benjamin Weissman 'Headless' (LHotB)
    • Derek McCormack 'Grab Bag' (LHotB)
    • Martha Kinney 'The Fall of Heartless Horse (LHotB)
    • Richard Hell 'Godlike' (LHotB)
    • Trinie Dalton 'Wide Eyed' (LHotB)
    • James Greer 'Artificial Light' (LHotB)
    • Dennis Cooper, ed. 'Userlands: New Fiction from the Blogging Underground' (LHotB)

See also

  • Little House on the Bowery/Akashic Press
  • Leora Lev, editor, "Enter at Your Own Risk: The Dangerous Art of Dennis Cooper" (FDU Press, 2006)
  • Paul Hegarty and Danny Kennedy, editors 'Writing at the Edge: The Work of Dennis Cooper' (Sussex University Press, March 2008)

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Dennis Cooper" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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