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David Hadbawnik

 

David Hadbawnik is a poet living in Buffalo, NY. Part one of his translation of the Aeneid was published in 2013 (Little Red Leaves); part two is forthcoming in 2014. In 2012, he edited Thomas Meyer’s Beowulf (Punctum Books), and in 2011 he edited (with Sean Reynolds) selections from Jack Spicer’s Beowulf for CUNY’s Lost and Found Document Series. Other publications include Field Work (BlazeVOX, 2011), Translations From Creeley (Sardines, 2008), Ovid in Exile (Interbirth, 2007), and SF Spleen (Skanky Possum, 2006). He is the editor and publisher of Habenicht Press and the journal kadar koli, and a co-editor of eth press.

 

 

 

Q: In the late 1960s and early 1970s, a conceptual art group called Art & Language specialised in producing art works utilising texts and lexical elements, whilst endorsing the theories of Marcel Duchamp, and holding the view that the practice of art should be methodically theoretical and separated from matters related to craft or aesthetics. These beliefs and procedures are echoed by practitioners of conceptual poetry, the most celebrated being Kenneth Goldsmith, who has spoken of Duchamp’s influence on his practice and that of other conceptual poets. Given these theoretical and procedural similarities between the Art & Language group and conceptual poets, in what sense is the work produced by conceptual poets significantly different from that produced by the Art & Language group, and, indeed, other conceptual artists working in the same area?

 

A: I am not terribly familiar with the Art & Language group, so it is difficult for me to answer this question. I feel that a lot of confusion emerges, however, in the clumping together of different writers working along a spectrum of procedural-conceptual practices – Caroline Bergvall is not a conceptual writer in the same sense Kenneth Goldsmith is, and both are different than, say, Christian Bök. But because of a select few who tend to guide the public perception of what conceptual writing is and who does it, there is an idea of it being one identifiable thing when it really is not. In the following, I am mostly going to be referring to the segment of conceptual writing that deals with appropriative strategies for the purpose of constructing texts that provoke boredom, shock, etc., which seems to derive largely from Kenneth Goldsmith and Vanessa Place.

 

Q: In ‘Kenneth Goldsmith, or The Art of Being Talked About’ Robert Archambeau says that he thinks that Kenneth Goldsmith ‘often seems to believe in a linear, progressive version of artistic and literary history, a view that many people in the art world feel has been discredited’. Would you agree with this view?

 

A: Part of the assumption underwriting any new movement is first, that it is in fact new, and second, that it represents some kind of progress from what came before. You see this quite clearly with the Language Writers – Bruce Andrews in particular tends to valorize the “adventure” of Language Writing, as I wrote about on my blog (http://habenichtpress.com/?p=475), claiming that Language Writers achieved  Barthes’ mythical “degree zero,” with the obvious implication that there is little or less for future writers to do in that regard. But even more problematic to me is the assumption that poets should always be focused on “making it new,” which as Richard Owens writes about extensively in his essay “FINANCE INNOVATION COMMODITY CULTURE” in kadar koli 7 (on violence), is actually quite a destructive and under-examined concept that has dominated all schools of (western) twentieth century poetics.

 

Q: Given conceptualism’s radical self-positioning of itself, do you think it is ironic that conceptualism has been championed and embraced by the academy?

 

A: Yes and no. Yes because on a certain level it constantly represents itself as a revolution against the mainstream academy (or the mainstream and the academy both), and if we include early iterations like Flarf there is even a self-conscious anti-intellectualism. No because the “radical self-positioning” is rather disingenuous in that it was always meant to inscribe conceptualism in the academy.

 

Q: Is conceptualism’s claim that it rejects what it sees as the “narcissistic selfhood” of much lyric poetry incompatible with its practices, given that so many of these practices revolve around the personality and showmanship of the poets involved, Kenneth Goldsmith being perhaps the most prominent example?

 

A: I would rather turn that question around and point out that conceptualism (and its predecessors: Flarf, Language Writing, etc.) radically misreads lyric poetry or, perhaps better to say, selectively reads a narrow spectrum of lyric poetry, which could more properly be termed “bad poetry.” Not all lyric poetry is bad and not all of it indulges in “narcissistic selfhood,” and even where the English Romantics begin to foreground the “I”-centered lyric there are complexities in both their reasons for doing so and the way in which they do it, reasons which can be traced to the concurrent rise of Industrial-Capitalism, the middle class, the concept of “entertainment”... In other words, John Clare, John Keats, Lord Byron et al., while they tended to be quite lyrical and loaded with affect, were not simply jumping up on a table, pounding their chests, and screaming “Look at me!” However, we have inherited a tradition of using the creative act to plumb and pull out and work through the self, a tradition that is not confined to poetry or even the lyric. There is nothing wrong with plumbing the self; it can be art, even great art. Truly great lyricists, however, even in the realm of songwriting (Bob Dylan, but also Nat King Cole, Rogers and Hart, etc.) expand on that, move past the self, get into affect in all kinds of complex ways. But where self-exploration arrives at a Billy Collins level of flatness and banality, which you can see every time you pick up an issue of Poetry or a mainstream university journal, conceptualism and its main critical champion Marjorie Perloff have a good point: we don’t need any more of that. It’s really this lazy kind of mimesis that glances around and collects things, colonizes things. That’s what I mean by bad poetry, and what really makes it bad is that it seems to lack faith in the ability of language to do anything, reveal or disclose anything, but the best it can do about that is a sort of knowing irony. It doesn’t make any demands on the reader to think hard about language or the self or the truths it purports to arrive at.

 

Originally the lyric in English – I’m thinking about things like the Anglo-Saxon elegies, “The Seafarer” and “The Wife’s Lament” – had nothing to do with self-expression. Those lyrics are incredibly complex psychologically; if we consider them in the context of Anglo-Saxon riddles, which reveal a humorous, witty, playful relationship with the natural environment, they represent almost the outer limit of what it’s possible to do in terms of displacing the self and letting an “other” come through in expression. So part of the poignancy of reading those lyrics is that you feel not only the sorrow of the wife or the world-weariness of the seafarer, but you also feel the effort of feeling that, the human empathy and connection that goes into the lyric expression. And that’s precisely what (some) conceptualism seems to argue we don’t need anymore, because it’s been done too many times. Well, it hasn’t been done nearly enough. To some extent we’ve lost the ability or the inclination to do it, because of the postmodern lack of faith in language on the one hand and the turning towards a banal and at best ironic kind of self-expression on the other. But there are lots of poets doing really amazing work in sort of picking up the pieces of the lyric and, without letting go of any of our contemporary suspicion of language (which is shared incidentally by every vernacular poet going back to Chaucer, Dante, etc.) investigating what it’s still possible to do.  

 

I would like to name some of those important poets working right now with the lyric in interesting and challenging ways: Richard Owens (Ballads), Judith Goldman (l.b., or, catenaries), Chris Vitiello (Irresponsibility, Obedience), Susan Briante (Utopia Minus), Farid Matuk (This Isa Nice Neighborhood), Kathyrn Pringle (fault tree), Rob Halpern (Music for Porn), Hoa Nguyen (as long as trees last)... and that is not even counting the rich U.K. poetry scene led by Keston Sutherland and including figures like Justin Katko, Emily Critchley, Laura Kilbride... or the forerunners here in the U.S., like Alice Notley and Susan Howe. There are many more I’m forgetting at the moment.

 

So we end up with this deep distrust of affect and urge to marshall and manage affect on the one hand, and to intellectualize it on the other. In a way it’s a reflection of the state of the U.S. politically – nobody understands anyone else; worse, nobody wants or feels any inclination to try to understand anyone else. The charge of “narcissistic selfhood” is really a symptom of what conceptualism fears and can’t get rid of, so it tries to master selfhood and feelings by doing it at a higher remove, i.e. appropriating others’ texts. I suppose you could say that’s a kind of lampoon or satire of selfhood but I think that kind of satire is done much better by Kent Johnson, for example, because by and large he’s doing the work and not simply taking things. Conceptualism has a whole critical apparatus in place to explain why we don’t need to do the work anymore but the result is a flat, empty feeling, like you get looking at Andy Warhol for the most part. I’d rather look at Basquiat who is processing some of the same things with pop culture but really feeling them and coming from somewhere inside, the awfulness and beauty of them.

 

Q: Conceptual poets tend to be reluctant to engage directly with their critics, preferring instead to rehearse the theories regarding their practice in self-penned essays in various sympathetic publications etc. Why do you think this is? 

 

A: To the extent that this is true I would say that it’s part and parcel of the self-positioning mentioned above. The leaders of the movement have learned from previous movements the importance of controlling the discourse. But look what happens when criticism rears its head. Recently this took place in a kind of fluid, ad-hoc way on Facebook in response to Joseph Kaplan’s Kill List. A lot of poets were posting: “What do you think of this?” or more aggressivley disparaging it. And granted, Facebook is not a good venue for engaging in critical discussions. It tends to veer quickly towards personal verbal assaults, snark, and so on. At some point a certain prominent Flarfist came into the tail end of a comments thread and said, “Clearly the poem is refusing to participate in the traditional idea of what a poem is.” And I wrote, “What are these ideas it’s refusing to participate in? It’s laid out in short, clean lines on the page, it’s a list poem.” And the Flarfist wrote, “Ok, you’re right.” And that was the end of that part of it, with the implication that if I couldn’t see what was going on then there was no use explaining it to me. Then another conceptualist comes along and copies the whole post and comments thread and makes them into a pdf and releases that as an e-book or whatever. OK, funny. But what is it doing, exactly? And another conceptualist makes a book that just takes stock of the names that weren’t in Kaplan’s book. You sort of go into the rabbit’s hole of this never-ending hyperdeigetic one-upsmanship, and it’s clever and funny but it also discourages any sort of serious questioning or critique because it tends to just be met with a snicker and/or incorporated into the apparatus of the text itself. “You don’t get it.” I’m willing to engage to some extent – Kill List is making people feel certain things, react in certain ways, and I want to understand what that is about. But the level of distrust and tendency to shut down the discourse is really off the charts at this point, and it goes back to the blog and listserv wars of the late 1990s, early 2000s for my generation, when it didn’t take much for things to get personal and insulting.

 

And again this mirrors where we are politically: After the 2012 [US] elections, there was this moment of shock on the right, this disbelief that their internal polling and media echo chamber did not reflect the reality, which was that President Obama was going to be re-elected fairly easily. But then it happened again (is happening) with the Tea Party resistance to Obamacare, the reality of climate change, and so on – a selective and refractive relationship to what we might call objective truth. Just so with discrete poetry communities: if there is a critique coming from outside, I can ignore it, because I am sealed off in my own bubble of like-minded poet-critic-bloggers and I don’t need to listen to anyone else. With poetry’s lack of a foothold in the larger culture – it is a well known dictum that only poets read poetry, and therefore it follows that only poets write about poetry, with few exceptions – there is no monolithic validating apparatus, which is a good thing, but it also results in this proliferation of self-sustaining worlds that are resistant to outside voices, especially critical ones. Conceptualism is hardly alone in that, but it’s been exceptionally savvy and procedural in its resistance to critique. The procedure is: You don’t get it. Which is what every poet has been saying in response to rejection from probably the first poet whose lines didn’t go over on the wall of a cave somewhere. But it’s a two-sided “you don’t get it” that flips according to the tone of the response. You don’t get it because you are taking it too seriously, you don’t have a sense of humor; or you don’t get it because you’re not smart enough, you haven’t read the theory and you don’t understand it. So you’re dumb or you’re humorless or both.

 

How do you respond to that if you’re a young student learning about poetics in the academy? The two worst things in the world to admit in a graduate seminar are that you don’t get a joke or you don’t get an idea because it’s over your head. And if you study poetry in a graduate seminar – at least this was the case at UB [University at Buffalo], I can only assume it’s similar in many theory-heavy departments – you don’t really talk about the poetry. You don’t talk about nitty-gritty things like line breaks and language and, god forbid, feeling or spirit. You talk about poststructuralist linguistics and psychoanalysis and “lines of flight” and, at best, get at it from a cultural studies perspective. All of those theoretical approaches are valid in their own right but they are aimed at producing an academic paper on the poetry rather than learning how the poetry works, i.e. learning how to write poetry. As a student, you very quickly get sucked into this mindspace, learning not only how to talk about poetry in the academy but also how to produce poetry that can be talked about in an academic way. I’ve seen this happen over and over again, where a young poet is doing something very interesting, which is smart and experimental but also has a sort of vulnerability and innocence, and within a year or so of being in the academy all the vulnerability and innocence is gone, and they are going for the knowing laugh rather than something unexpected and possibly embarrassing or profound (or if those elements are still there they are distanced and done at some kind of ironic remove). Some would say, you are valorizing individual suffering and we don’t need that any more, we have enough of it. To that I would respond, no, we have enough poetry that produces a knowing laugh. I don’t want poetry that has smarts so much as I want poetry that has guts.

 

Q: To what extent do you think conceptualism sees itself as a serious poetic art form?

 

A: It is the art form, according to its adherents. I took part in a very revealing conversation after a recent poetry reading by two West Coast poets on a tour for their new books. At the bar afterwards along with those poets were several of the local conceptualist folks, and the talk turned to the Kill List and the response to it. One of the conceptualists mentioned that there has always been resistance to anything new and that is what we are seeing – just a violent resistance to this new art that threatens conventional poetry. As the conversation progressed it emerged that provocation is what’s valued here, a gesture that shakes audience members or readers out of their comfort zones and forces them to confront some awkward truth. In a way, these are familiar ideas, we all know them; but this particular interation of the art-as-provocation trope seems to me very impoverished on the one hand and elitist on the other. Impoverished because provocation just seems like such a narrow field of activity. There is a need for provocation, and I think Vanessa Place for example does it very well – she has a great instinct for what to pick at in order to make folks squirm. It just seems limited to me. Elitist because the provocation only operates within, again, a narrow spectrum: Kill List relies on the fact that you know the names on the list and you know that the list is not “real,” i.e., no one is going to start offing those poets. And increasingly we see the whole discourse getting absorbed into an echelon of the New York art scene (i.e. events at the Museum of Modern Art, etc.). Beyond that, there is a law of diminishing returns at work here; the provocation has to go further and further in order to register on the consciousness in a meaningful way. That is part of the reason we see conceptualists engaging with issues like rape, genocide, terrorism... Like any new product, the next one has to be bigger, better, faster.

 

And that is the underlying critique for me that gets to the heart of the issue: (some) conceptualist projects strike me as very similar to capitalist products – with “product” encompassing everything from the latest iphone to the newest political campaign to the next war on the horizon. Capitalism can be avant-garde in a way no less theoretical and difficult than art, and I believe we saw that with the development of financial “products” (the slicing and dicing of mortgages that were then repackaged and sold with artificially high loan ratings, and which even economists were unable to fully understand or explain) that crashed the economy in 2008. After all, there is a lot more money and power at stake in the political-economic world than the world of aesthetics, so it’s no surprise to find that world on the cutting edge. So when Kenneth Goldsmith quotes Bryon Gysin in saying that writing is 50 years behind painting, perhaps the more apt comparison is between art and finance – because after all pop art more or less jump-started the outrageous commodification of artworks during the early 1980s that has resulted in figures like Damien Hirst – art is 50 years behind capitalism. The inescapable conclusion is that you have an art form that is not only not resistant to, but actively complicit with, empire, capital, the whole neo-liberal regime... Conceptualism attempts to carve out a space in the academy and the art world; it is aligned with the Big University, with Big Art. It does not really wish to trouble those institutions. It is not a kind of art you can take with you to the barricades (a fact that became obvious during the Occupy Movement and that helps explain why conceptualism has been slow to take hold in the Bay Area). And I mean complicit in everything from adopting or mirroring the innovations of finance and marketing to events such as Kenneth Goldsmith reading at the White House. Such complicity ought not to surprise us; historically, poets have either consciously aligned with or been perceived as aligning with the aims of nationalism and empire, from Virgil to Chaucer to Spenser on down. It is only with the Romantic movement, I suppose, that we developed this default idea of the poet as defender of liberty, the people, and so on. But it simply isn’t true; it is time to stop pretending that “we” all agree politically. So in a roundabout way, to get back to the question of “serious art,” the revolution in conceptualism is not that it is the “shock of the new” like so many prior twentieth century art movements, but that it is fairly explicit in finally capitulating to and co-opting the broader aims and approaches of late capitalism. I mean, I re-read 1984 recently and Orwell’s idea of the “Fiction Department,” where novels are written by machines, is almost prescient in its description of things like Flarf and certain appropriative strains of conceptualism.

 

But I want to look more closely at one of the predominant claims for conceptualism: that it frees us from authorship – this is a fallacy I wrote about in relation to Kent Johnson’s work in a post on Montevidayo –  or as it was expressed more recently, that it provides us with a “disembodied literature”. The latter essay, which appeared in Actuary, argues that the Internet has made this “insubstantial,” “disembodied” kind of writing possible, noting the congruence of the Internet with many of the major Conceptualist pieces, including of course Kenneth Goldsmith’s Traffic. It’s a smart essay overall, but there are two issues that I take here: first, in discussing the easy dissemination of pieces like Kill List, which have “no physical body,” the author is careful to note that “PDFs are not free. In fact, nothing on the internet is totally free. Everything needs to be physically stored and all physical storage costs money, resources, and labor.” This is part of the argument about “disembodied literature,” and I find it curious that we get this very good point about the hidden materiality of PDF documents in an essay that elsewhere elides other kinds of materiality. The author ends by stating that poetry “does have a body,” but – developing an idea from N. Katherine Hayles – prior to that, argues that with regards to Traffic, “the information has been divorced from its material,” i.e., the familiar argument that you don’t need to read the actual book (in fact you shouldn’t, because it’s boring and absurd), just contemplate the idea of it. I disagree. If there is a point to something like Day or Traffic it’s that we must sit with it and contemplate precisely the materiality it repackages and recontextualizes – both the physical product and the labor, research, and writing, as noted above, that went into the text in its original form.

 

And the reason why has to do with the notion of authorship that Conceptualism is supposed to be troubling. Seth Lehrer (in Chaucer and His Readers) writes about Bodleian Library MS Tanner 346, which anthologizes a selection of medieval poems by Chaucer, Clanvowe, and others, with no authorial attribution – because we are talking about a late-medieval culture that truly did not share our modern concept of authorship – organized so as to “educate its readers in the standards of a ‘gallant’ taste and in the conventions of court patronage...” According to Lehrer another manuscript, Huntington Library HM 140, gathers poems by Chaucer, Lydgate, and others with the aim of constructing a moralistic, pedagogical anthology, meant to be read by children. The point Lehrer makes – relevant here, I think, specifically in regards to the appropriative strain of Conceptualism – is that every manuscript is constructed for an ideological purpose, which extends to scribal alterations, illustrations, and whatever outright editing and re-attribution is involved. To only contemplate the idea behind such texts is to ignore the materiality that goes into the original writing, then its redeployment, and finally its overriding ideology – and to leap straight to the new authorial signature affixed to the text. That strikes me as very problematic.

 

I bring up manuscript culture in this context because whenever Perloff, Goldsmith, Dworkin, or other like-minded critics or poets present Internet-based conceptualist-appropriative strategies as a way of solving the problem of authorship, personal expression, etc., they never (to my knowledge) historicize authorship in a detailed and meaningful way. Their critique seems to begin with a hazy sort of Romanticism and leaps forward to Modernism and the confessional lyric, the latter of which is seen to continue to predominate in a strategically non-specified manner (i.e., they avoid naming names). However, British medieval manuscript culture shows that the importance and understanding of a named author has been cyclical and ever-contingent on the means of production, readership, various other factors... There is no teleology in poetry that leads to a utopian post-authorial literature. I agree that the Internet as a means of production and dissemination has the potential to return us to a cycle wherein authorship as we currently know it is altered, its importance diminished, but we must keep this history in mind.

 

Q: How do you explain conceptualism’s rapid ascendancy within the academy?

 

A: I would trouble both the “rapid” and “ascendancy” part of that question; I don’t think the onset of conceptualism has been terribly rapid, compared with what seems like the lightning-quick development and adoption of theories like Object-Oriented Ontology over the past few years. But perhaps I’m just paying attention to the wrong things. Also I don’t know to what extent any sort of conceptualist hegemony has taken or will take hold in the academy as a whole; my view is that of a PhD student at University at Buffalo, where I’ve watched this movement spread and grow since my arrival in 2008. Yet even here, it’s taken a long time, and there is no consensus that I’m aware of that conceptualism is the best or the only approach to poetry. I noticed in the interview that you [Jeffrey Side] conducted with Marjorie Perloff in 2006, there is no mention of conceptualism, though of course she is now its greatest critical proponent. But clearly the movement was already well under way even then.

 

But conceptualism is very attractive, especially to young poet-scholars who want to feel a part of something and perhaps don’t want to do the difficult and at times tedious work of exploring literary history. Also it tends to blend seamlessly with the various –isms prized by universities, especially English departments here in the U.S. And it’s no accident that conceptualism has found such a foothold in the U.S. university, because it is a direct response to the sort of “easy-bake” lyric encouraged by the MFA program, which is now ubiquitous and has essentially taken over the mainstream of poetry publishing, such as it is. Look at all the awards, prizes, contests – not to mention the tendency of university journals to publish short poems by a vast hodgepodge of poets ­– there is a genuine critique to be made of the blandness to which this leads.

 

Q: What are the possible ramifications for the reception of lyrical and other sorts of non-conceptual poetry within the academy, now that conceptualism has been accepted as poetry by the academy?

 

A: Ideally, conceptualism would take its place as simply another poetic movement alongside different kinds of writing. But it’s made that very difficult, because even while in actual practice it often overlaps with other types of poetry, the critical apparatus that rides alongside it insists on an antithetical relationship with everything else (or insists on a select lineage that ultimately leads to conceptualism). For example, when I taught creative writing to undergraduates, among Keats and Pound and H.D. and Plath, I also had them read and listen to selections from Christian Bök’s Eunoia. They loved it! But they also understood it in the context of a lyrical and experimental tradition. Many of the practices that fall under the aegis of conceptualism are not new. Appropriation is not new. Procedure is not new. Oulipo seemed playful about its antecedents, calling certain works “anticipatory plagiarism.” But it is as if conceptualism takes that idea seriously.

 

I think to some extent what we are seeing is that conceptualism simply assimilates what it wants among cutting-edge poetry within and without the academy. There was a recognition all of a sudden, after years and years of programmatic disparagement of the lyric from Language Writing to Flarf on down, that there might be something in the lyric after all. So you have an essay by Marjorie Perloff on how the lyric might be recuperated and deployed in the conceptual context, as if it’s this classic but obselete piece of technology like a turntable that just needs to be plugged in to autotune or something in order to be relevant again. And she points to Susan Howe, who really doesn’t belong to any –ism, but is just a great poet doing experimental things with lyric and language. This is the first part of assimilation: find culturally prestigious predecessors and critically construct the way in which their work authorizes and suggests conceptualist praxis. The second part is to do these broadly inclusive anthologies, like Against Expression, which select from the best and brightest of today’s poets regardless of whether their work has anything to do with the framing essays by Craig Dworkin and Kenneth Goldsmith. Who says no to being in an anthology? So again, despite the fact that some editor might have just as easily included Susan Howe and many other poets in an anthology of the so-called “New Lyric” or “new expressionism” or almost anything else, the conceptualists create this perception of breadth and depth of the movement that actually isn’t there.

 

But what I see happening is somewhat more hopeful than that: in reality people are going to keep doing what they’re doing, and not worry too much about labels. There are poetics students now coming into UB who already have an MFA and have already published books with major presses, and they are more confident in what they’re doing and not easily co-opted into the scene. At the moment I arrived there was a rather dramatic break, not only with what had come before in the poetics program but the remnants of that and how people were choosing to identify, also involving a lot of personality issues, but that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore; the new students and young poets who are curious about conceptualism can sample it or not as they desire and gradually – hopefully – some of the starker divisions will start to fade.

 

Q: US conceptual poets, particularly Kenneth Goldsmith and Vanessa Place, have expressed a disinterest in poetry as having any sort of political dimension. This is in marked contrast to some other historical and contemporary conceptual art practices internationally, such as Berlin Dada, the Situationists, The Colectivo de Acciones de Arte (CADA) etc. Does this disinterest by US conceptual poets in exploring conceptualism as poetic-political praxis weaken claims to such conceptualism’s “radicalism”?

 

A: First, it is impossible to not have a political dimension – asserting that you don’t have have one is itself political. Second, as noted in one of my answers above, there is a very clear (to me) socio-political element to some conceptualist projects. To deny that is disingenuous, especially among the “top level” practitioners; I only wonder if some of the poets attracted to the glittery surface of conceptualism are aware of the ideology it tends to reflect. But a distinction needs to be made. There are some projects and poets I deeply admire who might or might not be considered conceptualists, depending on who you ask – Stephanie Barber’s Night Moves is delightful and moving; Christian Bök is an incredible genius; Chris Piuma is doing amazing things with procedural strategies (and brilliantly connecting them with medieval literary practice in some cases). I really want to make it clear that I don’t harbor an ipso facto opposition to experimental writing; far from it! That accusation is, predictably, one of the ways of dismissing critiques, and we need to move past that as well.

 

 

 

 

copyright © David Hadbawnik