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Dennis Cooper

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Dennis Cooper


Frisk, Weak Species, Fear

Dennis Cooper BOMB Magazine Six Poems by Dennis Cooper

Novelist, poet, critic, editor, blogger, and performance artist

Sexual fantasy, existentialism, death, troubled teenagers, drug use, the inadequacy of language

Lambda Literary Award for Gay Men's Fiction

My loose thread, God Jr, The Weaklings (XL), Closer, Horror hospital unplugged

Similar People
Kathy Acker, William S Burroughs, Todd Verow, Marquis de Sade, Arthur Rimbaud

An Evening with Dennis Cooper

Dennis Cooper The Marbled swarm Le Fol Marbre

Dennis Cooper (born 1953) is an American novelist, poet, critic, editor and performance artist.


Dennis Cooper Dennis Cooper The Poetry Foundation



Cooper grew up the son of a wealthy businessman in Arcadia, California. His first forays into literature came early, focusing on imitations of Rimbaud, Verlaine, Sade, and Baudelaire. As he began his teenage years, he wrote poetry and stories on scandalous and often extreme subjects. At the age of fifteen, he began to plan an ambitious novel cycle. This project, which took Cooper nearly twenty years to realize, would later become known as The George Miles Cycle. 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 had a poetry teacher who was to inspire him to pursue his writing outside of institutions of higher learning.

Dennis Cooper Snarke Dennis Cooper

In 1976 Cooper went to England to become involved in the nascent punk scene. In the same year he began Little Caesar Magazine which included among other things an issue on and dedicated to Rimbaud. In 1978 with the success of the magazine, Cooper was able to found Little Caesar Press which featured the work of, among others, Brad Gooch, Amy Gerstler, Elaine Equi, Tim Dlugos, Joe Brainard, and Eileen Myles.

In 1979, Cooper published his first book of poetry, Idols, and became the director of programming at an alternative poetry space, Beyond Baroque, in Venice, California. He held that position for three years. Cooper's second book of poetry, Tenderness of the Wolves, published in 1982, was nominated for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. In 1983, Cooper moved to New York City where he published his first book of fiction, a novella titled Safe, and began writing the cycle of five interconnected novels he had been planning since his mid-teens. In 1985 he moved to Amsterdam where he finished writing the first novel in the George Miles Cycle, Closer, which later won the first Ferro-Grumley Award for gay literature.

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 (artist) 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. For several years, he was a contributing editor and regular writer for the rock music magazine Spin. In 1994, he founded the "Little House on the Bowery" imprint for the independent publisher Akashic Books, which has published works by Travis Jeppesen, Richard Hell, James Greer, Trinie Dalton, Benjamin Weissman, Derek McCormack and others. He completed his ten years of writing the George Miles Cycle with the novel Period in the year 2000. The cycle has now been translated into 17 foreign languages and is the subject of numerous academic studies. They include two volumes of critical essays devoted to the cycle: Enter at Your Own Risk (2004), edited by Leora Lev, and Dennis Cooper: Writing at the Edge (2008), edited by Paul Hegarty and Danny Kennedy. Since then he has written three novels: My Loose Thread, God Jr., and The Sluts (winner of the 2007 Prix Sade in France and the 2005 Lammy Award for best book of gay fiction).

Since the summer of 2005, Cooper has spent most of his time in Paris. While there, he has worked on his blog, which Cooper considers his current major artistic project, and has collaborated with French theater director Gisèle Vienne, composers Peter Rehberg and Stephen O'Malley, and the performer Jonathan Capdevielle on six works for the theater, I Apologize (2004), Un Belle Enfant Blonde (2005), Kindertotenlieder (2007), a stage adaption of his novella Jerk (2008), This Is How You Will Disappear (2010), and Last Spring, a Prequel (2011). These theater works have been highly acclaimed and continue to tour extensively in Europe, the UK, and Asia. While in France, Cooper finished a new book of poetry, The Weaklings, which was published in a limited edition by Fanzine Press in March 2008, a collection of short fiction titled Ugly Man (Harper Perennial, 2009), and Smothered in Hugs: Essays, Interviews, Feedback, and Obituaries (Harper Perennial, 2010).

In 2011, Cooper completed his ninth novel, The Marbled Swarm. He played a small role in Christophe Honore's feature film Homme au Bain. The year saw the publication of three books by Cooper: The Marbled Swarm (Harper Perennial, November), Jerk/Through Their Tears (DisVoir, March), a book/CD collaboration with Gisèle Vienne and Peter Rehberg, and the reissue of his and the artist Keith Mayerson's 1997 graphic novel Horror Hospital Unplugged (Harper Perennial). Them, a performance art work Cooper originally created in 1984 with choreographer/director Ishmael Houston-Jones and composer/ musician Chris Cochrane, was restaged very successfully in New York and Utrecht. Them won a 2011 Bessie Award for best performance of the year, and it will be touring Europe and the United States in 2012.

In 2012, Cooper and his frequent theater collaborator Gisèle Vienne co-curated a section of the annual Un Nouveau Festival at the Centre Pompidou in Paris entitled TEENAGE HALLUCINATION, featuring art exhibitions, films, lectures, live performances, concerts, an installation of the visual components of Cooper/Vienne's works to date, and performances of their theater pieces Last Spring, a Prequel (2011), Jerk (2008), and Cooper/Cochrane/Houston-Jones' Them. Last Spring, a Prequel also appeared in the 2012 edition of the Whitney Biennial. From March to June, Kunstverein Amsterdam hosted CLOSER: The Dennis Cooper Papers, a three-month celebration of Cooper's five-novel sequence The George Miles Cycle featuring an exhibition of Cycle-related materials, artworks especially commissioned for the occasion, lectures, performances, and the publication of a book.

2013 will see the publication of Cooper's latest poetry collection, The Weaklings (XL), by Sententia Books. The Pyre, his seventh theatrical collaboration with Vienne, composers Stephen O'Malley and Peter Rehberg, and lighting designer Patrick Riou, had its world premiere at the Centre Pompidou in May and is currently touring internationally.

In addition to their United States editions, Cooper's novels and books of poetry have been published in Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Spain, Portugal, the United Kingdom, Italy, Croatia, Hungary, Israel, China, Japan, and Lithuania.


In mid-2016, Cooper engaged in a two-month standoff with Google after it deleted his blog and Gmail accounts without warning, resulting in the potential loss of ten years of work, including a novel. Cooper termed the situation "a nightmare". Cooper's plight attracted media attention, including from The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Guardian, Le Figaro, and Die Welt. Google's attorneys contacted Cooper and after long negotiations, returned his data.


Cooper's work has been acknowledged as an influence on a number of younger writers, including Travis Jeppesen, Tony O'Neill, Noah Cicero, and Dominic Lyne . Cooper's poetry, including the first poem he ever wrote (about David Cassidy) appear in the film Luster as the work of lead character Jackson. American indie rock band Deerhunter, and grindcore act Pig Destroyer have both cited Dennis Cooper as a lyrical influence. Cooper has also influenced a number of artists such as Jonathan Mayhew, Math Tinder, Lizz Brady, Daniel Portland, Jared Pappas-Kelley, Kier Cooke Sandvik, Ken Baumann, Blair Mastbaum, which he has included in exhibitions such as the Weaklings or who he has showcased over the years. Within his work Cooper is often inspired and quotes from underground and independent music; as with the lyrics of the band Hüsker Dü in the novel Try, and the naming of the 1992 curated show The Freed Weed, from a compilation by the band Sebadoh - which has been discussed in a number of interviews and analyses.

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):

  • Closer (1989), ISBN 0-8021-3212-X
  • Frisk (1991), ISBN 0-8021-3289-8
  • Try (1994), ISBN 0-8021-3338-X
  • Guide (1997), ISBN 0-8021-3580-3
  • Period (2000), ISBN 0-8021-3783-0
  • "… [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.

    "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.

    Other books


  • Antoine Monnier (fiction, Anon Press, 1978)
  • My Mark (fiction, Sherwood Press, 1982)
  • Safe (novella, SeaHorse Press, 1985)
  • Wrong (short fiction, Grove Press, 1992)
  • My Loose Thread (novel, Canongate, 2002)
  • The Sluts (novel, Void Books, 2004; Carroll & Graf, 2005)
  • God Jr. (novel, Grove Press, 2005)
  • Ugly Man (short fiction, Harper Perennial, 2009)
  • French Hole, being 15 outtakes from 'The Marbled Swarm' (Kiddiepunk, 2011)
  • The Marbled Swarm (novel, Harper Perennial, November 2011)
  • The Pyre/Le Bucher (short fiction, limited edition book given to the audience of Gisèle Vienne's performance work 'The Pyre', Editions POL, 2013)
  • Zac's Haunted House (HTML Novel, Kiddiepunk, 2015)
  • Zac's Control Panel (HTML Book, Kiddiepunk, 2015)
  • Poetry

  • The Terror of Earrings (Kinks Press, 1973)
  • Tiger Beat (Little Caesar Press, 1978)
  • Idols (SeaHorse Press, 1979; Amethyst Press, 1989)
  • Tenderness of the Wolves (The Crossing Press, 1981)
  • The Missing Men (Am Here Books/Immediate Editions, 1981)
  • He Cried (Black Star Series, 1985)
  • The Dream Police: Selected Poems '69–93 (Grove Press, 1994)
  • Thee Tight Lung Split Roar Hums (with Thurston Moore, Byron Coley; Slow Toe Press, 2004)
  • The Weaklings (with illustrations by Jarrod Anderson, Fanzine Press, limited edition, 2008)
  • The Weaklings (XL) (Sententia Books, 2013)
  • Collaborations & Nonfiction

  • Jerk (collaboration with artist Nayland Blake, Artspace Books, 1994)
  • Horror Hospital Unplugged (graphic novel with illustrations by artist Keith Mayerson, Juno Books, 1997)
  • All Ears (criticism and journalism, Soft Skull Press, 1997)
  • Weird Little Boy' (provided texts for CD collaboration by John Zorn, Mike Patton, Trey Spruance, Chris Cochrane, William Winant, Avant, 1998)
  • Violence, faits divers, littérature (non-fiction, POL, France, 2004)
  • Dennis (CD/book, Don Waters Editions/AK Press, 2006)
  • Two Texts for a Puppet Play by David Brooks (with Stephen O'Malley, Jean-Luc Verna; DACM, limited edition, 2008)
  • SAFE with Dennis Cooper Ugly Man CD (Dot Dot Music, 2008)
  • Peter Rehberg/Dennis Cooper Music for GV (Mego Records, 2008)
  • Smothered in Hugs: Essays, Interviews, Feedback, Obituaries (Harper Perennial, 2010)
  • Jerk / Through Their Tears CD/book (w/ Gisèle Vienne, Peter Rehberg, DisVoir, March 2011)
  • Last Spring: The Maps multi-volume zine (w/ Gisèle Vienne, Le Cooperative Fanzine, 2011–2012)
  • Gisèle Vienne 40 Portraits 2003 - 2008 (Editions POL, 2012)
  • GONE: Scrapbook '80 - '82 (Infinity Land Press, 2014)
  • Works written for the theater

  • The Pyre (Director: Gisèle Vienne, Score: Stephen O'Malley, Peter Rehberg; 2013)
  • Last Spring, a Prequel (Director: Gisèle Vienne, Score: Stephen O'Malley, Peter Rehberg; 2011)
  • This Is How You Will Disappear (Director: Gisèle Vienne, Score: Stephen O'Malley and Peter Rehberg, Visual Effects: Fujiko Nakaya & Shiro Takatani; 2010)
  • Dedans/Dehors/David (Writer/Director: David Bobee, based on Cooper's novel "Closer", 2008)
  • Jerk (Director: Gisèle Vienne, Score: Peter Rehberg/Pita; 2008)
  • Jerk, radio play (France Culture/Radio France, 2007)
  • Kindertotenlieder (Director: Gisèle Vienne, Score: Stephen O'Malley and Peter Rehberg/Pita; 2007)
  • Une Belle Enfant Blonde (Co-written with Catherine Robbe Grillet, Director: Gisèle Vienne, Score: Peter Rehberg/Pita; 2005)
  • I Apologize (Director: Gisèle 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, 2010)
  • Visual Art


  • Against Nature: A Group Show of Homosexual Men (w/ Richard Hawkins; LACE, Los Angeles, 1989)
  • They See God (w/ Tim Guest; Pat Hearn Gallery, NYC, 1990)
  • The Freed Weed (Richard Telles Fine Art, Los Angeles, 1992)
  • The Temptations (Marc Foxx Gallery, Los Angeles, 1998)
  • Brighten the Corners (Marianne Boesky Gallery, NYC, 1998)
  • Smallish (greengrassi, London, 2001)
  • The Funeral Home (Marc Foxx Gallery, Los Angeles, 2002)
  • The Weaklings (Five Years, London, 2011)
  • TEENAGE HALLUCINATION (w/ Gisèle Vienne; Centre Pompidou, Paris, 2012)
  • Read Into My Black Holes (w/ Gisèle Vienne; Centre Pompidou, Paris, 2012)
  • Writer/Books:

  • ON&BY CHRISTIAN MARCLAY (Whitechapel Gallery, 2014), Tom Friedman (Phaidon), Raymond Pettibon (Phaidon), Mike Kelley: Catholic Discipline (Whitney Museum of American Art), Bill Henson (Scalo), Mise En Scene (Santa Monica Museum of Art), Helter Skelter (MoCA/LA), Gothic (MIT Press), John Miller: Disko Sucks Rock Sucks (daadgalerie, Berlin), Scott Treleaven: Some Boys Wander By Mistake (Kavi Gupta/John Connelly/Marc Selwyn), Sue de Beer: Emerge (DAP), Sue De Beer: Hans und Grete (Philip Morris GmbH), Charles Ray (Newport Harbor Art Museum), David Salle (Bruno Bischofberger), Jack Shear: Twelve Marines (Twelve Trees), a.o.
  • Miscellaneous:

  • Contributing Editor, Artforum International Magazine (2002 – )
  • Contributor/Critic: Frieze, Parkett, Art in America, Modern Painters, Art Issues, Beaux Arts, a.o.
  • Editor

  • Little Caesar Magazine #s 1 – 12 (1976–1982)
  • Little Caesar Press (1978–1982)
  • Dennis Cooper Tiger Beat
  • Gerard Malanga 100 Years Have Passed
  • Arthur Rimbaud Travels in Abyssinia and the Harar
  • Tom Clark The End of the Line
  • Tim Dlugos Je Suis Ein Americano
  • Tim Dlugos Entre Nous
  • Joe Brainard Nothing to Write Home About
  • Elaine Equi Shrewcrazy
  • Amy Gerstler Yonder
  • Elieen Myles Sappho's Boat
  • Oswell Blakeston Journeys End in Young Man's Meeting
  • Coming Attractions: American Poets in their Twenties
  • Ron Koertge Diary Cows
  • Peter Schjeldahl The Brute
  • Donald Britton Italy
  • Jack Skelley Monsters
  • James Krusoe Jungle Girl
  • Discontents: New Queer Writers (Amethyst Press, 1994)
  • The Kathy Acker Reader (with Amy Scholder, Grove Press, 2004)
  • Little House on the Bowery/Akashic Press
  • Travis Jeppesen Victims (2003)
  • Benjamin Weissman Headless (2004)
  • Derek McCormack Grab Bag (2004)
  • Martha Kinney The Fall of Heartless Horse (2004)
  • Richard Hell Godlike (2005)
  • Trinie Dalton Wide Eyed (2005)
  • James Greer Artificial Light (2006)
  • Userlands: New Fiction from the Blogging Underground (2007)
  • Matthew Stokoe High Life (2008)
  • Derek McCormack The Show That Smells (2009)
  • Mark Gluth The Late Work of Margaret Kroftis (2010)
  • Matthew Stokoe Cows (2011)
  • Lonely Christopher The Mechanics of Homosexual Intercourse (2011)
  • Works about Dennis Cooper

  • Earl Jackson Jr. "Death Drives Across Pornotopia: Dennis Cooper on the Extremities of Being, Strategies of Deviance (Indiana University Press, 1995)
  • Elizabeth Young and Graham Caveney "Death in Disneyland: Dennis Cooper", Shopping in Space: Essays on America's Blank Fiction (Serpents Tail, 1996)
  • James Bolton, director, Dennis Cooper, a 20-minute documentary film (2000)
  • Julian Murphet,"Postcards from Sim City," in *Literature and Race in Los Angeles* (Cambridge University Press, 2001)
  • Elizabeth Young "Dennis Cooper: Closer", Pandora's Handbag (Serpents Tail, 2003)
  • Leora Lev, editor, Enter at Your Own Risk: The Dangerous Art of Dennis Cooper (FDU Press, 2006) Includes essays on Cooper's work by William Burroughs, Michael Cunningham, Dodie Bellamy, John Waters, Kevin Killian, Matthew Stadler, Robert Gluck, Elizabeth Young, and others.
  • Avital Ronell "The Philosophical Code: Dennis Cooper's Pacific Rim", The ÜberReader: Selected Works of Avital Ronell (University of Illinois Press, 2007)
  • Paul Hegarty and Danny Kennedy, editors, Writing at the Edge: The Work of Dennis Cooper (Sussex University Press, March 2008)
  • Martin Dines Gay Suburban Narratives in American and British Culture (Macmillan, 2009)
  • Marvin J. Taylor and Krist Gruijthujsen Geometries of Desire: An Interview with Dennis Cooper (Kunstverein Amsterdam, 2012)
  • Stacey D'Erasmo The Art of Intimacy: The Space Inbetween (Graywolf Press, 2013)
  • Christopher Hennessy Our Deep Gossip: Conversations with Gay Writers on Poetry and Desire (The University of Wisconsin Press, 2014)
  • References

    Dennis Cooper Wikipedia