30 September 2012

Al Filreis Is Summing It All Up

I am tagging along in a Coursera class called ModPo run by Al Filreis, and wanted to snatch his notes in answer to the students' insistent question: What is modernism. Al says:

  1. intense self-referentiality (the poem gives evidence of self-consciousness about the fact that it is a poem)
  2. a partial or complete break from mimeticism, realism, narrative
  3. a partial or complete break from a stable coherent "I"/persona/speaker
  4. a move away from traditional stanza forms
  5. an intentional open-endedness at the level of the meaning of words and phrases, and also at the ending (non-ending) of the poem
  6. meta-poetry, an intense interest in poems as themselves providing an ars poetica
  7. a devotion to the kind of art that makes you ask, "Is it art?" - existential questions at the level of art itself
  8. often, especially in the early years of U.S. modernism: an effort to condense; a hatred of verbosity, especially lofty "flowery" rhetoric
  9. belief that the poem is a poem, not a beautiful thought, not a sentiment
  10. a belief that anything can be potentially the material (or subject matter) for a poem
  11. a distrust of high-flown rhetoric and "high poetic" diction
These are ridiculously enormous generalizations and won't hold up with any given poet, but describe a general trend.

Love this all and want to think about it later, both alone and with my own students. . . .