The Plasticity of Poetry



This essay won the 2005 Literature Compass Graduate Essay Prize, Twentieth Century Section.

By comparing avant-garde visual poetry to the avant-garde architecture of Arakawa and Madeline Gins, this essay describes how one virtually “moves through” poetic space. Appealing to examples from L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poets Charles Bernstein, Steve McCaffery and Susan Howe and contemporary Chilean poet Cecilia Vicuña, I steer the reader through complex visual poems based on the grounds that a disruption of the reader’s sense of space has aesthetic and political implications.