This collection is considered to be more than a work of criticism by the poet Charles Bernstein, it is a poetic intervention into criticism. "Artifice of Absorption", a key essay, is written in verse, and its structures and rhythms initiate the reader into the strength and complexity of the argument. In a variety of topics, polemic, and styles, Bernstein surveys the current poetry scene and addresses many of the issues of poststructuralist literary theory. "Poetics is the continuation of poetry by other means," he writes. What role does poetics play in contemporary culture; or what role should it play? Bernstein finds the answer in dissent, not merely in argument but in form, in the way we draw things together and pull them apart - a poetics language that resists being easily absorbed into the conventions of our culture. Insisting on the vital need for radical innovation, Bernstein traces the traditions of modern poetry back to Stein and Wilde, taking issue with those critics who see in the "post-modern" a loss of political and aesthetic relevance. He joins in the debate on cultural diversity and the definition of modernism.
He considers Swinburne and Morris along with considerations of Wittgenstein, Khelbnikov, Adorno, Jameson, and Pac-Man. Never far from view is the question of politic and poetic form. Along with critiques of conformity in mainstream writing, Bernstein includes a chapter on the effect of the Holocaust on the forms of powstwar American poetry. Charles Bernstein cofounded the journal L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E and has written 19 books of poetry.
1. State of the Art 2. Artifice of Absorption 3. In the Middle of Modernism in the Middle of Capitalism on the Outskirts of New York 4. Time Out of Motion: Looking Ahead to See Backward 5. Pounding Fascism (Appropriating Ideologies- Mystification, Aestheticization, and Authority in Pound's Poetic Practice) 6. Play It Again, Pac-Man 7. Professing Stein / Stein Professing 8. Optimism and Critical Excess (Process) 9. Censers of the Unknown-Margins, Dissent, and the Poetic Horizon 10. The Second War and Postmodern Memory 11. Comedy and the Poetics of Political Form Acknowledgments
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