Date of Award

Summer 8-2017

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

First Advisor

Kenneth Sherwood

Second Advisor

Christopher M. Kuipers

Third Advisor

Todd Thompson

Abstract

Numerous anthologies and critical treatises on poetry over the last two decades have weighed in on the possible dissolution of what many critics see as the two major camps of American poetry (the mainstream and the experimental), questioning the camps’ viability and porous natures. In 2009 W.W. Norton & Co. published the anthology American Hybrid edited by Cole Swensen and David St. John. It marked neither the first attempt to anthologize a murky blending of mainstream and experimental poetry, nor a crystallized vision of what a hybrid poetics might look like. However, it did spur a great deal of criticism ranging from concerns about its depth, breadth and inclusivity to the validity of its claims about generic categories (the avant-garde, the traditional), to its definition of a hybrid poetics, to its reliance on established poets already well entrenched in particular camps. For all that, however, the claims it makes require some investigation. After all, no movement in poetry is apolitical. These debates are not simply about naming rights for a new movement; rather, it is a question of how best to unpack critical concerns about the role of language and poetry in resisting the status quo. It is a question about a population’s belief in the ability of particular poetics to enact change. Hybrid poetics asks what happens to the content of the experimental if we burglarize the techniques.

Desiring to interrogate Swensen and St. John’s argument, this dissertation will track the history of the experimental and the mainstream as far as it leads to what I am calling Millennial Poetics, with the intention of asking, is this a new poetics in the 21st Century?

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