The Fate of Difficulty in the Poetry of Our Time offers original readings of poems composed in this century—poems that are challenging to follow, challenging to understand, challenging to discuss, and challenging to enjoy. Difficult poetry of the past relied on allusion, syntactic complexity, free association, and strange juxtapositions. The new poetry breaks with the old in its stunning variety; its questioning of inherited values, labels, and narratives; its multilingualism; its origin in and production of unnamed affects; and its coherence around critical and social theorists as much as other poets.
The essays in this volume include poets writing on the works of a younger generation (Lyn Hejinian on Paolo Javier, Bob Perelman on Rachel Zolf, Roberto Tejada on Rosa Alcalá), influential writers addressing the work of peers (Ben Lerner on Maggie Nelson, Michael W. Clune on Aaron Kunin), critics making imaginative leaps to encompass challenging work (Brian M. Reed on Sherwin Bitsui, Siobhan Philips on Juliana Spahr), and younger scholars coming to terms with poets who continue to govern new poetic experimentation (Joseph Jeon on Myung Mi Kim, Lytle Shaw on Lisa Robertson).
In pairings that are both intuitive (Marjorie Perloff on Craig Dworkin) and unexpected (Langdon Hammer on Srikanth Reddy), The Fate of Difficulty in the Poetry of Our Time illuminates the myriad pathways and strategies for exploring difficult poetry of the present.