Exploring the boundaries of one of the most contested fields of literary study—a field that in fact shares territory with philology, aesthetics, cultural theory, philosophy, and even cybernetics—this volume gathers a body of critical writings that, taken together, broadly delineate a possible poetics of the contemporary. In these essays, the most interesting and distinguished theorists in the field renegotiate the contours of what might constitute "contemporary poetics," ranging from the historical advent of concrete poetry to the current technopoetics of cyberspace. Concerned with a poetics that extends beyond our own time, as a mere marker of present-day literary activity, their work addresses the limits of a writing "practice"—beginning with Stéphane Mallarmé in the late nineteenth century—that engages concretely with what it means to be contemporary.
Charles Bernstein's Swiftian satire of generative poetics and the textual apparatus, together with Marjorie Perloff's critical-historical treatment of "writing after" Bernstein and other proponents of language poetry, provides an itinerary of contemporary poetics in terms of both theory and practice. The other essays consider "precursors," recognizable figures within the histories or prehistories of contemporary poetics, from Kafka and Joyce to Wallace Stevens and Kathy Acker; "conjunctions," in which more strictly theoretical and poetical texts enact a concerted engagement with rhetoric, prosody, and the vicissitudes of "intelligibility"; "cursors," which points to the open possibilities of invention, from Augusto de Campos's "concrete poetics" to the "codework" of Alan Sondheim; and "transpositions," defining the limits of poetic invention by way of technology.
Preface Introduction: Transversions of the Contemporary
1. END GAME How Empty Is My Bread Pudding?, by Charles Bernstein After Language Poetry: Modernity & Its Discontents, by Marjorie Perloff
2. PRECURSORS Getting Past Odradek, by Kevin Nolan The Avant-Garde & Radical Modernism in the Prehistory of Cyberculture, by Donald F. Theall Doctor Williams's Position, Updated, by Bob Perelman The Infinite Evasion of As, by Simon Critchley Corporal Poetics: Kathy Acker's Writing, by D. J. Huppatz Frank Zappa, Captain Beefheart, and the Secret History of Maximalism, by Michel Deville and Andrew Norris
3. CONJUNCTIONS Metaphor: The Colour of Being, by Ricardo Nirenberg Vagueness, by Keston Sutherland AND &, by D. J. Huppatz, Nicole Tomlinson, and Julian Savage Readings Notes, by Bruce Andrews Lost and Found, by Bruce Andrews
4. CURSORS Concrete Poetry: A Manifesto, by Augusto de Campos Questionnaire of the Yale Symposium, by Augusto de Campos Epigrams, Particle Theory, and Hypertext, by Darren Tofts Image Heuretics, by Gregory L. Ulmer From Hypertext to Codework, by McKenzie Wark Codeworld, by Alan Sondheim
5. TRANSPOSITIONS Techno-Poetics in the Vortext, by Louis Armand Parapoetics and the Architectural Leap, by Steve McCaffery Traps or Tools and Damage, by Allen Fisher Discontinued Meditations, by Steve McCaffery Screening the Page / Paging the Screen: Digital Poetics and the Differential Text, by Marjorie Perloff The Poetics of Cyberspace: Two Ways to Get a Life, by J. Hillis Miller
LOUIS ARMAND is a poet and the director of InterCultural Studies at Charles University, Prague.
"An epoch-defining collection of manifestos and essays: its list of contributors reads as a who's who of current important theorists in the field." —Michael Golston, assistant professor of English, Columbia University
"Puts a number of excellent essays back in print and makes several others easily available for the first time." —Craig Dworkin, associate professor of English, University of Utah
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