Twenty-First Century Avant-Garde Poetics
Publication Year: 2013
Since the turn of the new millennium English-language verse has entered a new historical phase, but explanations vary as to what has actually happened and why. What might constitute a viable avant-garde poetics in the aftermath of such momentous developments as 9/11, globalization, and the financial crisis? Much of this discussion has taken place in ephemeral venues such as blogs, e-zines, public lectures, and conferences. Nobody's Business is the first book to treat the emergence of Flarf and Conceptual Poetry in a serious way. In his engaging account, Brian M. Reed argues that these movements must be understood in relation to the proliferation of digital communications technologies and their integration into the corporate workplace.
Writers such as Andrea Brady, Craig Dworkin, Kenneth Goldsmith, Danny Snelson, and Rachel Zolf specifically target for criticism the institutions, skill sets, and values that make possible the smooth functioning of a postindustrial, globalized economy. Authorship comes in for particular scrutiny: how does writing a poem differ in any meaningful way from other forms of "content providing"? While often adept at using new technologies, these writers nonetheless choose to explore anachronism, ineptitude, and error as aesthetic and political strategies. The results can appear derivative, tedious, or vulgar; they can also be stirring, compelling, and even sublime. As Reed sees it, this new generation of writers is carrying on the Duchampian practice of generating antiart that both challenges prevalent definitions or art and calls into question the legitimacy of the institutions that define it.
Published by: Cornell University Press
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All rights reserved. Except for brief quotations in a review, this book, or parts thereof, must not be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the publisher. For information, address Cornell University Press, Sage House, 512 Nobody’s business : twenty-first century avant-garde poetics / Brian M. Reed.1. American poetry—21st century—History and criticism. 2. Experimental ...
Preface: What Now?
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Around the turn of the millennium, I began to run into poems that infuriated me. I had just finished graduate school. For six years I had lived and breathed modern poetry. My dissertation had required me to write knowledgeably about several hundred years of canonical verse, from William Collins’s “Ode on the Popular Superstitions of the Highlands” (1749–1750) to Bob Kaufman’s “The ...
1. In Praise of Obsolescence
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He was the first sane member of our family. He thought that poetry is In Lyric Powers (2008) Robert von Hallberg asserts without apology or quali-fication that poetry remains a vital art form in the twenty-first century: “Poetry is quoted in public, even from memory, and read aloud among friends, as often by working people as by intellectuals. And of course it is taught everywhere in ...
2. New Consensus Poetics and the Avant-Garde
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The poets I most care about are, maybe, trying to become human—or nonhuman; anyway, they are not so quick to assume what the human In a May 2007 review of three volumes published by Atelos Press, Eric Keen-aghan suggests that the American poetic avant-garde is kaput. The issue is not quality. The books in question—Laura Moriarty’s Ultravioleta (2006), Joc-...
3. Mechanical Form and Avant-Garde Aesthetics
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...—William Wordsworth, “Nuns fret not at their Convent’s narrow room” (1807) In the last chapter I sought to clarify how some twenty-first-century avant-garde writers position themselves in relation both to the immediately preced-ing generation of experimentalists and to an influential contemporary variety of verse, “hybrid” or “new consensus” poetry. One could call hybrid poetry the new ...
4. Flarf, Folly, and George W. Bush
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Maybe a giant talking feminist squid from Mars appearing in PMLA In The Transformation (2007), Juliana Spahr recounts the pervasive unease in New York City’s poetry circles following the events of September 11, 2001. What man-ner or mode of writing could respond meaningfully to such destruction, or to the United States’ consequent plunge into bellicosity and jingoism? Experimentalists ...
5. Andrea Brady’s Peculiar Dissidence
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The July–August 2009 issue of the Chicago-based journal Poetry featured two avant-garde movements, Flarf and Conceptualism. Almost a century after Har-riet Monroe had used the same little magazine to launch Imagism, it was again trying to announce the arrival of an adventurous new poetry for a new century. In his introduction to a selection of poems by Flarfists such as Drew Gardner, ...
6. Danny Snelson’s Disco Operating System
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By using obsolete technology, the . . . poet can recuperate means of communication that have been rejected and trashed. . . . [T]he poet’s role has become as obscure as outdated machines, an un-needed and —Danny Snelson, “Heath, prelude to tracing the actor as network” (2010) The previous chapter examined in a sustained manner two particular features ...
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An early version of chapter 2 appeared as “Grammar Trouble” in boundary 2 36, no. 3 (Fall 2009): 133–58. Copyright 2009, Duke University Press. All rights re-served. Reprinted by permission of the present publisher, Duke University Press. I thank Suzanna Tamminen of Wesleyan University Press, Gary Gratza of BlazeVOX, and Evan Munday of Coach House Books for their help in securing ...
Page Count: 240
Publication Year: 2013