For his anthology, Paul Hoover uses the term “postmodern” – instead of “experimental” or “avant-garde” – for exactly this reason: it is an open term which allowed him to group together all the different poets included in the book. And indeed they are very different, there are Beats and Black Mountain Poets, performance poets, New York Schoolers, Projectivists, language poets and those who probably belong to several or none of these categories and schools. Some of them are united in their tendencies towards the vernacular, the personal, the mundane – away from the formal and impersonal regime of modernist poetry. These poets create a poetics of the everyday where spoken language plays a central role. But others seem to go in the opposite direction, removing the author almost entirely from the poetic work and focusing on the words on the page rather than spoken language.
I really like Paul Hoover’s definition of postmodernism in his introduction where he describes it as “an ongoing process of resistance to mainstream ideology.” He says, it “decentres authority and embraces pluralism.”
In this sense, the 103 poets brought together in the 700 pages of this volume are united in their passionate fight – against the mainstream, against established authority, towards pluralism. On the page and in performances and readings they are fighting for it. And I would dearly like to join them because to me it sounds like the fight for a better world on the whole.
Hoover claims that one thing which unites these postmodernist poets is their preference of “writing-as-process” instead of “writing-as-product” – and maybe that is also what this blog is about: The struggle with and through language, the development and exploration rather than the solution.
I am following these great writers in their footsteps and there is no way of knowing where it will lead me. I invite my readers to follow me – for one year.