Turning a poem into verbo object, commodity
Concentrated on the process of writing
Poems appear unfinished
Process of producing is not the result of single individuality
The Language poets (or L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poets, after the magazine that bears that name) are an avant garde group or tendency in United States poetry that emerged in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In developing their poetics, members of the Language school took as their starting point the emphasis on method evident in the modernist tradition, particularly as represented by Gertrude Stein and Louis Zukofsky. Language poetry is also an example of poetic postmodernism. Its immediate postmodern precursors were the New American poets, a rubric which includes the New York School, the Objectivist poets, the Black Mountain School, the Beat poets, and the San Francisco Renaissance.
While there is no such thing as a "typical" Language poem, certain aspects of the writing of language poets became heavily identified with this group: writing that actively challenged the "natural" presence of a speaker behind the text; writing that emphasized disjunction and the materiality of the signifier; and prose poetry, especially in longer forms than had previously been favored by English language writers, and other nontraditional and usually nonnarrative forms.
Language poetry has been a controversial topic in American letters from the 1970s to the present. Even the name itself has been controversial: while a number of poets and critics have used the name of the journal to refer to the group, many others have chosen to use the term, when they used it at all, without the equals signs, while "language writing" and "language-centered writing" are also commonly used, and perhaps the most generic terms. None of the poets associated with the tendency have used the equal signs when referring to the writing collectively, and its appearance in some critical articles can be read as an index of the author's outsider status.
Online writing samples of many language poets can be found on internet sites, including blogs and sites maintained by authors and through gateways such as the Electronic Poetry Center, PennSound, and UbuWeb.
Poetics of language writing: theory and practice
Language poetry emphasizes the reader's role in bringing meaning out of a work and came about, at least in part, in response to the sometimes uncritical use of expressive lyric sentiment among earlier poetry movements to which the Language poets felt a kinship. In the 1950s and '60s certain groups of poets had followed William Carlos Williams in his use of idiomatic American English rather than what they considered the 'heightened,' or overtly poetic language favored by the
… to the language group. The application of process, especially at the level of the sentence, was to become the basic tenet of language praxis. The influence of Stein came from the fact that she was a writer who had frequently used language divorced from reference in her own writings. The language poets also drew on the philosophical works of Ludwig Wittgenstein, especially the concepts of language-games…
… and see the poem as a construction in and of language itself. In contrast, Bernstein has emphasized the expressive possibilities of working with constructed, and even found, language.
Gertrude Stein, particularly in her writing after Tender Buttons, and Louis Zukofsky, in his book-length poem "A," are the modernist poets most influential on the Language school. In the postwar period, John Cage…
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