Thursday, July 31, 2008

"The True Avant-Garde"

[I found this cfp a minute ago; and in many ways it explains why I don't even bother using the term "avant-garde" anymore. I will explain in more detail in a later post why I find this so repulsive.]

Towards a True Avant-Garde Poetics

While conventional notions of the avant-garde suggest work which is
groundbreaking, confrontational and even impenetrable, this panel seeks to
investigate poetry and poetics which adhere to a narrower sense of the
term—namely, Peter Bürger's conception of the avant-garde as work which
"demand[s] that art becomes practical once again," or returns art to the
praxis of everyday life. Understood this way, Bürger's avant-garde
aesthetic changes the ways in which an audience interacts with art, calling
for personal action, and provides new, democratized inroads to the creative

Work conceived under this model might be thought of as "anti-Romantic," as
it resists traditional stereotypes of the poet-figure as both exceptional
and solitary—a rare individual graced by the muses—and rather, sees poetry
as a common language available to all. The reader/poet is drawn into a
larger poetic community, linked by processes of influence and action.

There's a broad history of 20th Century poetry which follows this
avant-garde ideology, from the stark simplicity of William Carlos Williams'
diction to the high-minded concepts guiding Tristan Tzara's Dadaist
cut-ups, and in particular, work influenced by Donald Allen's epochal 1960
anthology, The New American Poetry: 1945-1960, seems to take this ethos as
a guiding principle. The Poetry Project at Saint Mark's Church in the
Bowery, the mimeograph revolution of the 1960s and 70s, and the Language
poets' lists of experiments are all clear manifestations of Bürger's
avant-garde at work, as are contemporary grassroots poetry workshops,
listservs and blog-based journals.


Blogger Stanley Bishop Burhans said...

I agree that Burger's theory of the avant-garde is not very good. I have no idea why people take his book seriously.

I'm fond of Harold Rosenberg on this topic lately, actually.

3:57 PM  
Blogger Amish Trivedi said...


Where are you on the whole "Towards a(n) X Poetics" thing?

I imagine that's one of your problems right off the bat, though I may have misjudged that entirely.

4:00 PM  

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