Experimental poetry, once a form that challenged established verse writing in both form and aesthetic, has shaped the history of Western Poetry. Throughout time, daring and expansive poetry has influenced younger poets, eventually becoming the new standard and displacing the old guard. This ongoing cycle of experimentation and rebellion has persisted since the emergence of literate individuals seeking to convey profound inspirations through language that surpassed mere description. However, what we witness today is a recycling of previous Avant Gard ideas and gestures, with slight modifications. The norm has become experimentation itself.
Yet, amidst this landscape, a group of poets known as the New Formalists has emerged. These poets, weary of free verse and open forms, choose to compose rhymed poems with traditional meter. Their presence and potential to undermine the hegemony of the experimental tradition have sparked controversy. Each individual is entitled to their own preferences in literature and their critical rationale for appreciating particular forms of expression. Emotional responses, subject to marginalia and deformation, take on a poetic quality of their own. While they may not capture the essence of our fluid states of being, they allow us to engage with our recollections through a lexicon that momentarily aligns with our perceptions. This poetic guesswork, never definitive, perpetuates the dissension among those who eagerly await their turn to speak their worlds into existence. Nonetheless, it brings an indispensable quality—our love for the process of using language that mirrors the fluidity and unpredictability of experience.
Personally, I am drawn to poetic writing that possesses the rare quality of being both fresh and unique. I am less concerned with the theoretical aspects of a poem, whether experimental or traditional, and more interested in how it resonates and functions. If a poem evokes satisfaction in its readers, it becomes worth exploring the artistic endeavor undertaken by the writer—bringing skill and spontaneous inspiration to bear on the page. Poets such as Ron Silliman and John Ashbery have captivated me with their indirect approach to expressing life's complexities. Similarly, Thomas Lux and Dorianne Laux have invited me to follow their lines of thought, leading to unexpected and extraordinary results.
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