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Attention Equals LifeThe Pursuit of the Everyday in Contemporary Poetry and Culture$
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Andrew Epstein

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780199972128

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199972128.001.0001

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“There Is No Content Here, Only Dailiness”

“There Is No Content Here, Only Dailiness”

Poetry as Critique of Everyday Life in Ron Silliman’s Ketjak

(p.197) 5 “There Is No Content Here, Only Dailiness”
Attention Equals Life

Andrew Epstein

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues that Ron Silliman, a founding member of the avant-garde movement known as Language poetry, is a quintessential poet of the quotidian whose work has rightly been called “an epic of everyday life.” Far from being divorced from daily life and the “real,” Silliman’s work, and Language poetry in general, has been concerned with the theory, politics, and practices of everyday life. In his long prose poem Ketjak (1974), Silliman devised a radical new kind of experimental realism based on repetition, expansion, and procedural rules. Silliman turns the resources of everyday-life aesthetics toward political and critical ends, in a critique of late twentieth-century consumer capitalism that reveals how its institutions and ideologies invade and determine the smallest quotidian details. The chapter argues that Silliman makes the dilemma of how to pay attention to and represent the quotidian one of Ketjak’s central subjects.

Keywords:   Ron Silliman, everyday life, Language poetry, conceptual art and writing, political critique, long poem, new sentence

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