Thursday, April 22, 2004

After a great discussion here about what to call a certain mode of contemporary poetry--postmodern? experimental? innovative? avant-garde?--the same note is sounding over at the Boston Comment "Avant-Garde Debate", with fine and sensible contributions by Oren Izenberg, Steve Burt, Kent Johnson, and Joe Amato, among others, which by and large decline to be pushed into the fisticuffs encouraged by the tendentious questions. I'm a bit too groggy to respond fully right now, but I do note that nearly all of the respondents recognize the social or sociological element to "avant-garde" as opposed to the purely stylistic implcations of "experimental," though differing on how they feel about this.

For the record, I'm counting among the correspondents two votes for "experimental" (Izenberg, Hix), one vote for "avant-garde" (Alan Golding), one vote for both (Norman Finkelstein), one vote for neither (Burt), one vote for "post-avant" (Johnson), and one vote for "yellow submarine" (Amato).

I'm awarding Oren the prize for best line so far:

Q: do you enjoy reading a collection of individual, unconnected lines?

A: No, I don't believe I would get pleasure out of a collection of individual, unconnected lines. Fortunately for me, I've never encountered one, and neither have you.

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