NOTES FOR PERDU

Counter-Radical Modernism
reflective, ironic lyric
Eliot & New Criticism
classical formal diction & boundaries
autonomy
distancing, impersonal meditation
arch, complex, controlled irony
not to be sensually appreciated but explicated by critics

[2005 Informal Talk on US Poetry & Language]

BACKDROP

a)  Counter-Radical Modernism

reflective, ironic lyric
Eliot & New Criticism
classical formal diction & boundaries
autonomy
distancing, impersonal meditation
arch, complex, controlled irony
not to be sensually appreciated but explicated by critics
‘close reading’
Jed Rasula, The American Poetry Wax Museum
Michael Davidson, AmerPo, New PrincetonEncycPo & Poetics

b)  emerging avant garde of the 1950s

Pound Williams influences
New American Poetry
line = register of momentary attention
loosening of trad forms;    anti-formalist or open form
Revival of Romanticism, personal voice  or process centered
(vs. autonomy)
Beats, protest poetry
candor vs. irony
poetry reading as venue
Beats, Black Mt., New York school – Don Allen, The NewAmPo
‘open forms’
spontaneously registering expressive moments
or surrealist/symbolist associativeness
all pitched up by 60s energy, up to ’68

c)  pre-1970s Thermidor

Retreat into modest personal tone
spare & quiet surfaces, suburban accomodationism,
moralizing
Workshop poetry (celebration of ‘little self’, autobiographical)
New Formalism (celebration of limits)
their ‘dangerousness’ comes from ‘Content’ & personal identification

 

1970:

1. Rediscovery of non-canonical rad modernism in English (Stein, late Zuk)

Rediscovery of Euro avant garde (Dada, Russian futurism, etc)

2.  Most radical edges of 1st and 2nd generation ‘New Americans’

Isolation of phrase & word (Creeley post-Zuk, Eigner, Grenier)
Collage (Ashbery Tennis Court Oath e.g.)
Process & performative work (Cage, MacLow, Spicer, Antin, etc)

3.  Ethnopoetics / Concrete & Vis Po / Sound poetries

4.  Performance work, rad work in other fields

Film (Godard etc, US experimental)
Dance, Theater, Happenings (Judson, Fluxus, Foreman)
Visual Art
Music (classical avant, free jazz – free improv, electronic)

5.  Theory (Euro structuralist/post-struc, Frankfurt School, Wittgenstein +)

 

EARLY LANGUAGE-CENTERED WRITING

1.  Language-centered

How meaning/signification is produced
to defamiliarize
?-representational, ?-referential transparency
L. as the event itself

2.  Rematerialized:  sound, look, publication matter

Dereferentialized
not subordinated to voice or preset form or pictorial realism

3. Self & experience    as discursive constructions

?-personalism, or autobio expressionism
(vs. identification / Brechtian)

4.  ?-narrative or continuity

Fragmentation or isolation

vs. flow
vs. normative grammar

Collage and nonsequitur

Single words or submorphemic or ‘new sentence’/paragraph

5.  Anti-genre constraints

Prose, theory, etc.

 

LATER

a.  stress on READER

Informalist navigating & negotiating

b.  more SOCIAL

collectively or multiply voiced (if fragmentarily)
Meaning as social construction:  social system byproduct
Gender or the ‘Political’ — as materials, as tone
Defamiliarizing the status quo = its politics

 

TRENDS among younger writers:

1.  Retreat — re:   Reference,   Materiality,   Continuity,   Genre,   the Self

2.  Conceptual — process or algorithmic, away from reader-centeredness