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Calvin Bedient on Conceptualism in Boston Review

Illuminating and sharp article from Calvin Bedient in the Boston Review against conceptualism in poetry:

Poetry is accustomed to being berated for having too much of this or too little of that, come back when you are classical, baroque, romantic, avant-garde, or postmodern, you just aren’t there yet, you fairly engaging thing. But who could have foreseen that poetry would finally be attacked for being poetry?


And elsewhere:

But this cerebral poetry does its work in a period when the old assumption that culture could be progressive is dead. It is thus devoted to ruins. It is reactionary at the same time that its alliance with digital technologies—technologies that facilitate copying, sampling, and remixing; that “float” documents and make them seem up for grabs—gives it the lure of being very “now.” As an effort to form an avant-garde, “head” poetry thus diverges sharply from the disruptive-to-revolutionary aesthetic and political aims that characterized the early 20th century avant-gardes.


Regardless of your views on the subject, I think it’s safe to say we could do with a few more critical writers of Bedient’s caliber. There are too few authors writing about the politics of poetics in such an intelligent manner.


Read the full article here.


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