Language Poetry

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An avant-garde movement in American poetry and poetics since the 1970s, with roots in both San Francisco and New York City and an academic centre at the State University of New York, Buffalo. It is a highly theorized tendency that draws not only upon late modernist traditions of American free verse (Zukofsky, Olson, Creeley) and upon the inspiration of the New York school but upon post-structuralist arguments about language and representation in support of its central emphases on the self-referential nature of language and the incoherence of the authorial self. As with other avant-garde groups, it claimed to be undermining the linguistic pillars of bourgeois power, such as closure, meaning, etc. The principal figures in this movement have been Bruce Andrews, Charles Bernstein, Lyn Hejinian, Susan Howe, and Ron Silliman; others associated with the movement were Michael Palmer, Clark Coolidge, and Bob Perelman. An important vehicle for their essays and poems was the journal L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E (1978–82) edited by Bruce Andrews and Charles Bernstein, who later selected an anthology of its materials as The L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E Book (1984). Bernstein's book A Poetics (1992) is an important restatement of the group's aims. For a fuller account, consult Linda Reinfeld, Language Poetry (1992).

http://english.utah.edu/eclipse/projects/LANGUAGE Archive of early issues of L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E.

Subjects: Literary Studies (20th Century onwards).

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