These essays share as their theme the reconsideration of the role of historical and cultural change in the evolution of 20th-century poetry and poetics. Perloff first looks at broad theoretical concerns - the evolution and contradictions of the term ""postmodernism""; the vexed relation of modernism to the primitivism ostensible inherent in it; the large-scale transformation of free verse; and the reception of poetry and poetics in the contemporary press and its cyberspace future. From this theoretical framework she then addresses individual cases - the difficult poetic language of Mina Loy; the relation of poetry and politics as exhibited by Denise Levertov and Robert Duncan; the mimetic nature of photography as understood by Roland Barthes and Christian Boltanski; the special accomplishments of John Cag's ""Mesostic"" art.
Marjorie Perloff is the Sadie Dernham Patek professor of Humanities at Stanford University. She is the author of many books of literary criticism, including Poetic License: Essays on Modernist and Postmodernist Lyric and The Poetics of Indeterminacy: Rimbaud to Cage, both published by Northwestern University Press.