The Nonconformist's Poem

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Kathy-Ann Tan

The Nonconformist's Poem. Radical "Poetics of Autobiography" in the Works of Lyn Hejinian, Susan Howe and Leslie Scalapino

ISBN 978-3-86821-068-2, 256 S., kt., € 26,50 (2008)

(Mosaic - Studien und Texte zur amerikanischen Kultur und Geschichte, Bd. 34)

This book reflects the author’s enduring fascination with what seems to be a fundamental paradox in contemporary linguistically innovative, ‘experimental’ poetry (in particular, poetry associated with the L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E school of writing) – the existence of a strong autobiographical impulse despite a poetic ethos of multiplicity and collective authorship which claims to posit socially-reflexive forms of subjectivity over the authority of a coherent, lyric “I”. That the self seems to have ‘returned with a vengeance,’ and that an autobiographic impulse is strongly present in experimental writing, which positions itself along the margins and in the fringes of mainstream literature, is also an interesting incongruity, given the fact that the genre of autobiography has otherwise wholly been embraced by mainstream and popular culture. In providing an examination of how, and to what end, the autobiographical impulse is reconfigured in the works of Lyn Hejinian, Susan Howe and Leslie Scalapino, this study attempts to locate their experimental “poetics of autobiography” within a broader cultural framework which includes textual strategies of self-construction and self-representation; renegotiations of subjectivity, identity and authorship along gendered lines of inquiry; as well as the situating of the poetic text within larger postmodern cultural formations. Combining theoretical approaches with close readings of poetic texts and poetological essays which render themselves particularly apt to the enacting of a new “poetics of autobiography,” Kathy-Ann Tan argues that behind the experimental façade of the work of these poets lies a deeper, more ‘traditional’ urgency to reconfigure the ways in which modes of self-perception and self-representation ultimately structure the very processes of writing.

Buchvorschau / Inhaltsverzeichnis (pdf)