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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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Everyday-Life Projects in Contemporary Poetry and Culture

Everyday-Life Projects in Contemporary Poetry and Culture

Kenneth Goldsmith, Claudia Rankine, Brenda Coultas, Harryette Mullen, and More

(p.229) 6 Everyday-Life Projects in Contemporary Poetry and Culture
Attention Equals Life

Andrew Epstein

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues that rule-governed, constraint-based everyday-life projects have re-emerged and spread since the 1990s as a pointed response to cultural panic concerning the fate of attention in an age of distraction. Poetry-as-project is an attempt to recover the ordinary; at the same time, these works extend and at times critique the experimental realism and everyday-life poetics of the postwar years. This chapter examines why such projects have proliferated, why they are attractive to those fascinated by the quotidian, and why quite similar projects flourish in vernacular culture. The chapter discusses the controversial “conceptual poetry” of Kenneth Goldsmith; also, recent projects by Brenda Coultas, Harryette Mullen, and other poets who exploit the possibilities of the everyday-life project for social and political criticism.

Keywords:   everyday life, contemporary poetry, conceptual writing, long poem, Kenneth Goldsmith, Harryette Mullen, Brenda Coultas, reversal of hierarchies, micropolitics

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