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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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... score, or film, or sculpture, than with another lyric.’ Other poets and critics with avant-garde pedigrees explore the territory of conceptual poetry on a smaller scale, with nimbler instruments. TanLin is included in Goldsmith and Dworkin’s anthology, but his best work isn’t: Seven Controlled Vocabularies is a manifesto for present-day quasi-semi-avant-garde verbal art that is playful or ...

Errant Pinkies

Robert Macfarlane

1 June 2000
by Ha Jin.
Heinemann, 308 pp., £10, May 2000, 0 434 00914 8
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... and is now an American citizen. What is unusual about him is that he belongs in the very slim category of writers of fiction who lived through the Cultural Revolution, and who write in English. Amy Tan and her imitators are American-Chinese writers who have grown up in the States and who, when they do write about China, construct an imagined country out of what they have been told by parents and ...

Tyranny of the Ladle

James C. Scott: Mao’s Great Famine

6 December 2012
Tombstone: The Untold Story of Mao’s Great Famine 
by Yang Jisheng, translated by Stacy Mosher and Guo Jian.
Allen Lane, 629 pp., £30, November 2012, 978 1 84614 518 6
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Mao’s Great Famine: The History of China’s Most Devastating Catastrophe, 1958-62 
by Frank Dikötter.
Bloomsbury, 420 pp., £9.99, May 2011, 978 1 4088 1003 3
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The Gender of Memory: Rural Women and China’s Collective Past 
by Gail Hershatter.
California, 455 pp., £37.95, August 2011, 978 0 520 26770 1
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... the unified Qin state in 221 BCE. At a party conference in May 1958, Mao urged the emulation of an emperor who had advocated eliminating anyone who used history to criticise the present. When Marshal Lin Biao noted that Qin Shi Huang had burned books and buried scholars, Mao replied: ‘What was Qin Shi Huang? He only buried 460 scholars but we buried 46,000 scholars. During the suppression of ...

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