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Language Writing

Jerome McGann, 15 October 1987

In the American Tree: Language, Poetry, Realism 
by Ron Silliman.
National Poetry Foundation, 628 pp., $34.50, June 1986, 0 915032 33 3
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‘Language’ Poetries: An Anthology 
by Douglas Messerli.
New Directions, 184 pp., $19.95, March 1987, 0 8112 1006 5
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... has been said, and continues to be said, of the poets and poetries loved of Charles Bernstein and Ron Silliman – two of the most important and influential of these new American writers. The anthologies edited by Silliman and Douglas Messerli contain a great deal of unpleasant and difficult poetry – for ...

Where Things Get Fuzzy

Stephanie Burt: Rae Armantrout, 29 March 2017

Partly: New and Selected Poems 2001-15 
by Rae Armantrout.
Wesleyan, 234 pp., £27, September 2016, 978 0 8195 7655 2
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... would soon learn to call a ‘language poet’. Like Hejinian, like their Bay Area friend and ally Ron Silliman, and like the writers from the East Coast who ran the magazine L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E, Armantrout sought a recalcitrant, even opaque, way of writing that could get out from under the assumptions, conventions and restrictions of (among other ...

Must poets write?

Stephanie Burt: Poetry Post-Language, 10 May 2012

Unoriginal Genius: Poetry by Other Means in the New Century 
by Marjorie Perloff.
Chicago, 232 pp., £11.50, April 2012, 978 0 226 66061 5
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Uncreative Writing: Managing Language in the Digital Age 
by Kenneth Goldsmith.
Columbia, 272 pp., £15.95, September 2011, 978 0 231 14991 4
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Against Expression: An Anthology of Conceptual Writing 
edited by Craig Dworkin and Kenneth Goldsmith.
Northwestern, 593 pp., £40.50, December 2010, 978 0 8101 2711 1
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Seven Controlled Vocabularies and Obituary 2004, The Joy of Cooking: [Airport Novel Musical Poem Painting Film Photo Hallucination Landscape] 
by Tan Lin.
Wesleyan, 224 pp., £20.50, May 2010, 978 0 8195 6929 5
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... champion of the language poets: Charles Bernstein, Lyn Hejinian, Rae Armantrout, Steve McCaffery, Ron Silliman, Susan Howe, Bruce Andrews and perhaps a dozen others, who first published during the 1970s in a brace of little magazines, one of which bore the all too catchy name L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E. Often – too often – seen as a uniform group, language ...

The poet steamed

Iain Sinclair: Tom Raworth, 19 August 2004

Collected Poems 
by Tom Raworth.
Carcanet, 576 pp., £16.95, February 2003, 1 85754 624 5
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Removed for Further Study: The Poetry of Tom Raworth 
edited by Nate Dorward.
The Gig, 288 pp., £15, March 2003, 0 9685294 3 7
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... memories, charting and evaluating what has happened. Raworth never explains, he moves on. As Ron Silliman points out, ‘Raworth generally has shied away from critical writing as such save for obituaries.’ And there have been too many of those. The poet’s continuous present is racing away from him, as he works to keep up, or to overtake. To see ...

Literary Friction

Jenny Turner: Kathy Acker’s Ashes, 18 October 2017

After Kathy Acker: A Literary Biography 
by Chris Kraus.
Allen Lane, 352 pp., £20, August 2017, 978 1 63590 006 4
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... in 1974. ‘I’m becoming a rock’n’roll lyricist!’ Acker wrote to the L*A*N*G*U*A*G*E poet Ron Silliman that year, with a version of her own: ‘NO MORE PARENTS NO MORE SCHOOL/NO MORE SOCIETY’S DIRTY RULES/SPREAD MY LEGS I’M SO POOR I WANT TO DIE.’I bought and read Blood and Guts in High School in the 1980s, and was interested to find I ...

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