Improvisation in Contemporary Experimental Poetry

Hazel Smith

in The Oxford Handbook of Critical Improvisation Studies, Volume 2

Published in print September 2016 | ISBN: 9780199892921
Published online December 2014 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Improvisation in Contemporary Experimental Poetry

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This chapter characterizes recent developments in improvisation in contemporary experimental poetry. It traces the evolution of improvised poetry from the work of classic improvisers such as David Antin, Steve Benson, and Bob Cobbing to the present day. It argues that poetic improvisation has been marginalized not only within poetic practice but also within theories of poetic performance. It traces the development of poetic improvisation as “new sonic writing” into computerized modes of improvisation, particularly algorithmic text generation. It discusses the impact of social changes, such as increased gender equality, globalization, and transnationalism, on the evolution of poetic improvisation, which has become increasingly populated by women and also more ethnically diverse. It formulates the concept of a “posthuman cosmopolitanism” with regard to computerized improvisation.

Keywords: improvisation; performance; new sonic writing; algorithmic text generation; posthuman cosmopolitanism

Article.  9378 words. 

Subjects: Music ; Philosophy of Music

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