Book review: Artifice and Indeterminacy


Artifice and Indeterminacy: An anthology of new poetics
Christopher Beach, editor
U of Alabama Press. 1998. 354 pp.
Modern and contemporary poetics series
Charles Bernstein and Hank Lazer, editors

Anthologies devoted to experimental poetry, avant-garde poetry, postmodern poetry, innovative poetry, and outside poetry have increased recognition of marginalized poets. This volume extends that work while taking a different approach, offering an anthology not of their poems, but of their poetics.

Editor Christopher Beach gathered these essays to demonstrate the range of thinking about poetry in the last two decades of the 20th century, from writers as diverse as Barrett Watten, Bob Perelman, Charles Bernstein, David Antin, Hank Lazer, James Sherry, John Taggart, Leslie Scalapino, Lyn Hejinian, Maria Damon, Marjorie Perloff, Michael Davidson, Nathaniel Mackey, Rachel Blau Duplessis, Rae Armantrout, Ron Silliman, Steve Mccaffery, and Susan Howe.

These poets have produced texts that can be read in dialogue with varied disciplines, Beach says, including critical theory, cultural studies, feminism and gender studies, aesthetics, literary history, and media studies.

The book’s four sections represent issues that relate to the practice of contemporary avant-garde poets.
Section one brings together a group of essays concerned with form, language, and the communicative potential of poetry.Section two articulates these expanded possibilities through a set of concerns that is less directly formal or linguistic.
Section three demonstrates the extent to which poetry and poetics can engage in a project of political critique, or serve as an arena for exploring basic questions about political thought and action.
Section four presents essays that offer models for a feminist or gender-inflected poetics and that ask complex questions about the intersection of poetics and gender.


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