This volume presents a selection of nine years of Hank Lazer's writing on a range of issues in contemporary American poetry. These essays are a kind of temporal cubism, a shifting but repeated focus on several key issues: the consequences of poetry's institutionalization; the pedagogic and political value of experimental poetry; and the crisis that results from professionalized, mainstream poets' misidentification of poetry with self-expression. Through a series of recurring cultural, material, and institutional perspectives, Lazer investigates the assumptions and habits that govern conflicting conceptions of contemporary American poetry, while refining, reconsidering, and questioning his own and modern theorists' assertions and claims relating to experimental poetry. Part One: ""Issues and institutions"" is an examination of the shift in the governing assumptions of contemporary poetic practice. Lazer inspects the key critical works which address poetry in the 1980s and 1990s, as well as the political and aesthetic impact of modern critics, of poetry reading programs, and of the publishing industry and libraries on contemporary poetic practice. In Part Two: ""Readings"", Lazer presents a series of sustained readings of important experimental texts. Included are the poets Susan Howe, Lyn Hejinian, Bruce Andrews, and James Sherry; Lazer places these poets in the context of contemporary literary theory, and inspects both the successes and the failures of said theory to interpret these works.
Hank Lazer is Professor of English and Assistant Dean for Humanities and Fine Arts at the University of Alabama. He has published widely in both poetry and criticism.
Criticism and the crisis in American poetry; opposing poetry; poetry readings and the contemporary canon; the politics of form and poetry's other subjects - reading contemporary American poetry; experimentation and politics - contemporary poetry as commodity; thinking made in the mouth - the cultural politics of David Antin and Jerome; Rothenberg; anthologies, poetry and postmodernism.