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Against Expression, An Anthology of Conceptual Writing

Year

2011

Type

Anthology
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Editors Craig Dworkin and Kenneth Goldsmith have put together an expansive collection of conceptual writing—an emergent early 21st century movement practiced by poets such as Christian BökCaroline BergvallRobert FittermanVanessa Place, Darren Wershler-Henry, and many more.

This compilation gathers the primary documents of the movement's key practitioners as well as obscure texts by writers such as Denis Diderot, William Burroughs, Hart CraneW. B. Yeats, that help to inform its experimental tradition.

To practice what the book preaches, by appropriating text directly from its back cover, one might say:

Against Expression is the premier anthology of conceptual writing, charting a trajectory of the conceptual aesthetic from early precursors such as Samuel Beckett and Marcel Duchamp through major avant-garde groups of the past century, including Dada, Oulipo, Fluxus, and language poetry, to name just a few. The works of more than a hundred writers from Aasprong to Zykov demonstrate a remarkable variety of new ways of thinking about the nature of texts, information, and art, using found, appropriated, and randomly generated texts to explore the possibilites of non-expressive language.

As Goldsmith says in an interview with Poets.org:

The best thing about conceptual poetry is that it doesn't need to be read. You don't have to read it. As a matter of fact, you can write books, and you don't even have to read them. My books, for example, are unreadable. All you need to know is the concept behind them.

Though one does not have to read the whole anthology to understand it, Against Expression serves as an invaluable resource for exploring this international literary movement.

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