“Isn’t the Avant-garde Always Pedagogical”: Experimental Poetics and/as Pedagogy

  • Alan Golding


My purpose here is to discuss a range of positions on the relations between poetry and pedagogy within recent avant-garde writing, by looking at work that not only thematizes but also formally instantiates those relations. Given the range and vigor of creative writing programs across the country, the poetry associated with that site might seem a more obvious body of work to discuss in relation to pedagogy. So why avant-garde poetics and pedagogy particularly? The simultaneous legacies of didacticism and anti-institutionalism within avant-garde poetics make that poetics an especially fruitful site for thinking about teaching. Furthermore, interesting poems have been produced out of the conflicted contemporary version of these twin legacies—“interesting” precisely because the inherent tension between avant-garde practice and the academy has grown much more complicated as institutionalized pedagogy has increasingly become a central medium for disseminating avant-garde work. Hence my interest in these questions: How have some recent experimental poets responded to, used, or viewed the pedagogical situation? In other words, how have these poets treated “pedagogy” in their work, and what might the answers to that question suggest for our understanding of the relationship between innovative writing and the academy?1


Pedagogical Situation Creative Writing Language Writing Experimental Writer Young Writer 
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© Joan Retallack and Juliana Spahr 2006

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  • Alan Golding

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