Details

ISBN-10: 0226660621
ISBN-13: 9780226660622
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publish Date: 04/15/2012
Dimensions: 8.90" L, 5.90" W, 0.70" H

Unoriginal Genius: Poetry by Other Means in the New Century

Paperback

Price: $26.00

Overview

What is the place of individual genius in a global world of hyper-information– a world in which, as Walter Benjamin predicted more than seventy years ago, everyone is potentially an author? For poets in such a climate, originality begins to take a back seat to what can be done with other people’s words–framing, citing, recycling, and otherwise mediating available words and sentences, and sometimes entire texts. Marjorie Perloff here explores this intriguing development in contemporary poetry: the embrace of unoriginal writing. Paradoxically, she argues, such citational and often constraint-based poetry is more accessible and, in a sense, personal than was the hermetic poetry of the 1980s and 90s.

Perloff traces this poetics of unoriginal genius from its paradigmatic work, Benjamin’s encyclopedic Arcades Project, a book largely made up of citations. She discusses the processes of choice, framing, and reconfiguration in the work of Brazilian Concretism and Oulipo, both movements now understood as precursors of such hybrid citational texts as Charles Bernstein’s opera libretto Shadowtime and Susan Howe’s documentary lyric sequence The Midnight. Perloff also finds that the new syncretism extends to language: for example, to the French-Norwegian Caroline Bergvall writing in English and the Japanese Yoko Tawada, in German. Unoriginal Genius concludes with a discussion of Kenneth Goldsmith’s conceptualist book Traffic–a seemingly pure’ radio transcript of one holiday weekend’s worth of traffic reports. In these instances and many others, Perloff shows us poetry by other means of great ingenuity, wit, and complexity.

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Reviews
“When "The Poetics of Indeterminacy" appeared, our view of twentieth-century poetry was reconceived and reborn. Since then Perloff established herself as the pre-eminent scholar and critic of  the Modern/Postmodern epoch, whose continuities she was the first to grasp. Of her work one wants to say, recalling Marianne Moore, it is a privilege to see so much profusion. Another wonderment, "Unoriginal Genius" circumnavigates the poetic world of the past 75 years, touching at strategic ports of call and eager to mix with many languages, cultures, and aesthetic media. The book starts in the theatre of Benjamin’s Second Empire and finishes with a study of the Edgar Poe "des nos jours," Kenny Goldsmith—aptly finishes, since Perloff’s underlying story, though she never says this and though nearly everyone has forgotten it, began—as Baudelaire knew—with Poe, the first of our great poetic theatricians.”—Jerome McGann, University of Virginia
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Details

ISBN-10: 0226660621
ISBN-13: 9780226660622
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publish Date: 04/15/2012
Dimensions: 8.90" L, 5.90" W, 0.70" H
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