How much did "making it new" have to do with "making it"? For the four "outsider poets" considered in this book—Charles Olson, Robert Creeley, Louis Zukofsky, and Ted Berrigan—the connection was everything. At once a social history of literary ambition in America in the fifties and sixties and a uniquely collective form of literary biography, Career Moves offers an intimate account of the postwar poetry underground.
Making the controversial claim that anti-Establishment poets were at least as "careerist" as their mainstream peers, Libbie Rifkin shows how the nature of these poets’ ambition actually defined postwar avant-garde identity. In doing so, she clarifies the complicated link between the crafting of a literary career and the defining of a literary canon.
A dynamic account of the history, practice, and theory of poetry as performance.
Distant Reading considers poetry as performance, offers new insights into its popularity, and proposes a new history of its origins. It also explores related issues concerning the reception of poetry, the impact of the computer on how we read poetry, the persistence of the letter "I" in poems by avant-garde poets, the strangeness of the line-break as a demand on the reader's attention, and the idea of the reader as consumer. These themes are connected by a historically contextualized and theoretically sophisticated discussion of contemporary American and British poets continuing to work in the modernist tradition.
The introductory essay establishes a new methodology that transforms close reading into what Middleton calls "distant reading," interpretive reading that acknowledges the distances that texts travel from their point of composition to readers in other geographical and historical locations. It indicates that poetic innovation is often driven by a desire on the part of the poet to make this distance do cultural work in the meanings that the poem generates.
Ultimately, Distant Reading treats poetry as a cultural practice that is always situated within specific sites of performance—recited on stage, displayed in magazines, laid out on a page, scrolled on the computer screen—rather than as a transcendent cloud of meaning tethered only to its words.
The Feminist Avant-Garde in American Poetry offers a historical and theoretical account of avant-garde women poets in America from the 1910s through the 1990s and asserts an alternative tradition to the predominantly male-dominated avant-garde movements. Elisabeth Frost argues that this alternative lineage distinguishes itself by its feminism and its ambivalence toward existing avant-garde projects; she also thoroughly explores feminist avant-garde poets' debts and contributions to their male counterparts.
Exploration of our inner life—perception, thought, memory, feeling—once seemed a privileged domain of lyric poetry. Scientific discoveries, however, have recently supplied physiological explanations for what was once believed to be transcendental; the past sixty years have brought wide recognition that the euphoria of love is both a felt condition and a chemical phenomenon, that memories are both representations of lived experience and dynamic networks of activation in the brain. Caught between a powerful but reductive scientific view of the mind and traditional literary metaphors for consciousness that have come to seem ever more naive, American poets since the sixties have struggled to articulate a vision of human consciousness that is both scientifically informed and poetically truthful.The Lyric in the Age of the Brain examines several contemporary poets—Robert Lowell, A. R. Ammons, Robert Creeley, James Merrill, John Ashbery, Jorie Graham, and experimentalists such as Harryette Mullen and Tan Lin—to discern what new language, poetic forms, and depictions of selfhood this perplexity forces into being. Nikki Skillman shows that under the sway of physiological conceptions of mind, poets ascribe ever less agency to the self, ever less transformative potential to the imagination. But in readings that unravel factional oppositions in contemporary American poetry, Skillman argues that the lyric—a genre accustomed to revealing expansive aesthetic possibilities within narrow formal limits—proves uniquely positioned to register and redeem the dispersals of human mystery that loom in the age of the brain.
Lyric Interventions explores linguistically innovative poetry by contemporary women in North America and Britain whose experiments give rise to fresh feminist readings of the lyric subject. The works discussed by Linda Kinnahan explore the lyric subject in relation to the social: an “I” as a product of social discourse and as a conduit for change.
Contributing to discussions of language-oriented poetries through its focus on women writers and feminist perspectives, this study of lyric experimentation brings attention to the cultural contexts of nation, gender, and race as they significantly shift the terms by which the “experimental” is produced, defined, and understood.
This study focuses upon lyric intervention in distinct but related spheres as they link public and ideological norms of identity. Firstly, lyric innovations with visual and spatial realms of cultural practice and meaning, particularly as they naturalize ideologies of gender and race in North America and the post-colonial legacies of the Caribbean, are investigated in the works of Barbara Guest, Kathleen Fraser, Erica Hunt, and M. Nourbese Philip. Secondly, experimental engagements with nationalist rhetorics of identity, marking the works of Carol Ann Duffy, Denise Riley, Wendy Mulford, and Geraldine Monk, are explored in relation to contemporary evocations of “self” in Britain. And thirdly, in discussions of all of the poets, but particularly accenuated in regard to Guest, Fraser, Riley, Mulford, and Monk, formal experimentation with the lyric “I” is considered through gendered encounters with critical and avant-garde discourses of poetics.
Throughout the study, Kinnahan seeks to illuminate and challenge the ways in which visual and verbal constructs function to make “readable” the subjectivities historically supporting white, male-centered power within the worlds of art, poetry, social locations, or national policy. The potential of the feminist, innovative lyric to generate linguistic surprise simultaneously with engaging risky strategies of social intervention lends force and significance to the public engagement of such poetic experimentation.
This fresh, energetic study will be of great interest to literary critics and womens studies scholars, as well as poets on both sides of the Atlantic.
An enlightening examination of the relationship between poetry and the information technologies increasingly used to read and write it
Many poets and their readers believe poetry helps us escape straightforward, logical ways of thinking. But what happens when poems confront the extraordinarily rational information technologies that are everywhere in the academy, not to mention everyday life?
Examining a broad array of electronics—including the radio, telephone, tape recorder, Cold War–era computers, and modern-day web browsers—Seth Perlow considers how these technologies transform poems that we don’t normally consider “digital.” From fetishistic attachments to digital images of Emily Dickinson’s manuscripts to Jackson Mac Low’s appropriation of a huge book of random numbers originally used to design thermonuclear weapons, these investigations take Perlow through a revealingly eclectic array of work, offering both exciting new voices and reevaluations of poets we thought we knew.
With close readings of Gertrude Stein, Frank O’Hara, Amiri Baraka, and many others, The Poem Electric constructs a distinctive lineage of experimental writers, from the 1860s to today. Ultimately, Perlow mounts an important investigation into how electronic media allows us to distinguish poetic thought from rationalism. Posing a necessary challenge to the privilege of information in the digital humanities, The Poem Electric develops new ways of reading poetry, alongside and against the electronic equipment that is now ubiquitous in our world.
Experimental poetry responded to historical change in the decades after World War II, with an attitude of such casual and reckless originality that its insights have often been overlooked. However, as Benjamin Lee argues, to ignore the scenes of self and the historical occasions captured by experimental poets during the 1950s and 1960s is to overlook a rich and instructive resource for our own complicated transition into the twenty-first century.
Frank O’Hara and fellow experimental poets like Amiri Baraka, Diane di Prima, and Allen Ginsberg offer us a set of perceptive responses to Cold War culture, lyric meditations on consequential changes in U.S. social life and politics, including the decline of the Old Left, the rise of white-collar workers, and the emergence of vernacular practices like hipsterism and camp. At the same time, they offer us opportunities to anatomize our own desire for historical significance and belonging, a desire we may well see reflected and reconfigured in the work of these poets.
A preeminent critic maps the frontier of contemporary poetry.
In this book, Jerome McGann argues that contemporary language-oriented writing implies a marked change in the way we think about our poetic tradition on one hand and in the future of criticism on the other. He focuses on Walter Benjamin and Gertrude Stein as important intellectual resources because both see the history of poetry as a crisis of the present rather than as a legacy of the past. The crisis appears as a poetic deficit in contemporary culture, where values of politics and morality are judged prima facie more important than aesthetic values. McGann argues for the fundamental relevance of the aesthetic dimension and the contemporary relevance of cultural works of the past.
McGann moves through several broad categories in his examination of contemporary poetry, including the ways in which poetry must be abstract, change, and give pleasure. The author draws on sources ranging from the poetry of Bruce Andrews and Robert Duncan to Looney Tunes cartoons. The experimental move in contemporary poetry, McGann contends, is an emergency signal for readers and critics as much as it is for writers and poets, a signal that calls us to rethink the aesthetics of criticism. The interpretation of literary works has been dominated by enlightenment models—the expository essay and monograph—for almost two hundred years. With the emergence of new media, especially digital culture, the limitations of those models have grown increasingly apparent.
The Point Is To Change It explores alternative critical methods and provides a powerful call to reinvent our modes of investigation in order to escape the limitations of our inherited academic models. The goal of this process is to widen existing cracks or create new ones because, as McGann points out via the lyrics of Leonard Cohen, "That's how the light gets in."
The finest essays from the newest generation of critics and poet-critics are gathered together in this volume documenting the growth in readership and awareness of avant-garde poetries.
This collection demonstrates the breadth and openness of the field of avant-garde poetry by introducing a wide range of work in poetics, theory, and criticism from emerging writers. Examining the directions innovative poetry has taken since the emergence and success of the Language movement, the essays discuss new forms and the reorientation of older forms of poetry in order to embody present and ongoing involvements. The essays center around four themes: the relation between poetics and contemporary cultural issues; new directions for avant-garde practices; in-depth explorations of current poets and their predecessors; and innovative approaches to the essay form or individual poetics.
Diverging from the traditional, linear argumentative style of academic criticism, many of the essays in this collection instead find critical forms more subtly related to poetry. Viewed as a whole, the essays return to a number of shared issues, namely poetic form and the production of present-day poetry. While focusing on North American poetry, the collection does reference the larger world of contemporary poetics, including potential biases and omissions based on race and ethnicity.
This is cutting-edge criticism at its finest, essential reading for students and scholars of avant-garde poetry, of interest to anyone interested in contemporary American literature and poetry.
As the twentieth century drew to a close, experimentalism in American poetry was most commonly identified with Language writing. At the same time, however, a number of poets, many of them women, were developing their own alternative forms of experimentalism, creating “uncommon languages” often indebted to Language writing but distinct from it.
With impressive intellectual engagement and nuanced presentation, Thinking Poetry provides a meticulous and provocative analysis of the ways in which Alice Fulton, Myung Mi Kim, Joan Retallack, Cole Swensen, Rosmarie Waldrop, Susan Wheeler, and C. D. Wright explored varied compositional strategies and created their own innovative works. In doing so, Lynn Keller resourcefully models a range of reading strategies that will assist others in analyzing the complex epistemology and craft of recent “exploratory” writing.
The seven women whose work is discussed here demonstrate widely differing ways of using poetry to, as Swensen puts it, “stretch the boundaries of the sayable.” Thinking Poetry examines approaches to women’s poetic exploration, ranging from radically open, thoroughly disjunctive writing to feminist experimentation within relatively conventional free verse forms; from texts testing the resources of visual elements and page space to those in which multilingualism or digital technology provide arenas for innovation; from revitalized forms of ekphrasis to fresh approaches to pop culture.
Keller illuminates as well a transitional era in U.S. poetry that presaged current developments that are often seen as combining the poetics of personal lyric and Language writing. Thinking Poetry challenges reductive notions of such a synthesis as it makes clear that the groundwork for current poetic trends was laid by poets who, in a far more polarized climate, pursued their own, often distinctly feminist, visions of necessary innovation.
The first critical volume devoted to the full range of women's postmodern works
We Who Love to Be Astonished collects a powerful group of previously unpublished essays to fill a gap in the critical evaluation of women's contributions to postmodern experimental writing. Contributors include Alan Golding, Aldon Nielsen, and Rachel Blau DuPlessis; discussions include analyses of the work of Kathleen Fraser, Harryette Mullen, and Kathy Acker, among others. The editors take as their title a line from the work of Lyn Hejinian, one of the most respected of innovative women poets writing today.
The volume is organized into four sections: the first two seek to identify, from two different angles, the ways women of different sociocultural backgrounds are exploring their relationships to their cultures' inherited traditions; the third section investigates the issue of visuality and the problems and challenges it creates; and the fourth section expands on the role of the body as material and performance.
The collection will breach a once irreconcilable divide between those who theorize about women's writing and those who focus on formalist practice. By embracing "astonishment" as the site of formalist-feminist investigation, the editors seek to show how form configures feminist thought, and, likewise, how feminist thought informs words and letters on a page. Students and scholars of avant-garde poetry, women's writing, and late-20th-century American literature will welcome this lively discussion.
Browse our collection.
See BiblioVault's publisher services.
Files for college accessibility offices.
UChicago Accessibility Resources
BiblioVault ® 2001 - 2023
The University of Chicago Press