“Conceptual” poetry

I had an incredibly exhausting trip out to Buffalo with some friends to participate in the small press book fair there. What an incredible space.

A lot of my friends out there fall into the “conceptual poet” category. This label fascinates me for who gets placed in it versus who does not. There seems to be a strong proceduralism and/or repetitiousness to the projects I have seen get read under this “conceptual” banner. And a provocation at the center of their work. Some might describe it as “offensive.” I am on the fence. I’m interested and alert to it because I haven’t quite made up my mind about what I think it’s doing. That in itself is very exciting to me.

But what about authors working in different shapes with different motivations behind their work? Nathaniel Mackey. Urayoan Noel. Myung Mi Kim. There is a sense of history at their center that they write around. Does this disqualify them from this label of “conceptual”? I’m inclined to think so.

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