Mark Wallace on Factionalism

by on Aug.17, 2011

I google searched for other discussions about factionalism in american poetry and came upon Mark Wallace’s post from a long time ago:

“There have been now about fifteen years of claims that the distinction between so-called “mainstream” and “avant garde” literatures are increasingly irrelevant and/or old-fashioned. And in fact the contemporary poetic landscape shows that to be true. But that’s not because poetry exists in any greater state of unity than before. Just the opposite: probably we have more differing claims than ever regarding the value of contemporary poetry. The American Hybrid and Shepherd’s anthologies represent not a new middle ground but instead posit specific schools of thought that oppose themselves to other schools of thought.”

1 comment for this entry:
  1. Kent Johnson

    First sentence of Wallace’s piece:

    >In various essays and reviews, Michael Theune has been tracing the problems in Shepherd’s and related notions of third way poetics.

    Oddly enough, one of those essays, at thirty-some pages, on various books I’ve done in different capacities, is in Pleiades, a couple of issues back, called “Impolitic: On Kent Johnson’s Radical Hybridity.” The essay is in print, but here’s an abstract of sorts I found online. Wondering what people think of the term “middle space” (though I guess you’d have to read the essay). I wonder, though, if by Middle we might begin to think now not just in the sense of “Third Way,” but in the sense of dominant Center:

    >The past twenty years in American poetry have given rise to middle space poetry, poetry—sometimes labeled “Third Way,” “Hybrid,” and/or “Elliptical”—that situates itself in the middle space between mainstream/lyric and avant-garde/experimental aesthetics. While work in the middle space by now should have added up to an important and fruitful development in contemporary poetry—for there is much shared ground for these aesthetics to explore—middle space thinking and poetry for the most part has been very problematic. Paradoxically, the problems of the middle space—especially as it is presented in its three key anthologies: Reginald Shepherd’s The Iowa Anthology of New American Poetries and Lyric Postmodernisms, and Cole Swensen and David St. John’s American Hybrid—largely result from its trying to be too politic.)