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Conclusion: Autobiography and the Language School

Conclusion: Autobiography and the Language School

(p.168) Conclusion: Autobiography and the Language School
One Kind of Everything
Dan Chiasson
University of Chicago Press

A surprising feature of experimental American poetry in the past several years has been its interest in autobiography as a concept. Several of the most important Language and post-Language writers have produced works that we might call in some sense “autobiographical”: these include Susan Howe's Pierce-Arrow and Frame Structures, and Ron Silliman's Under Albany. These “autobiographical” projects by poets of the Language school and Language-influenced younger poets (poets of the so-called post-avant-garde) bear little resemblance, of course, to conventional autobiography. There are sound theoretical reasons, based on the foundational stories of the lyric art, for connecting lyric poetry and anonymity: the renunciations of the social self (in grief, in religious devotion, in shame) described in the stories of Orpheus and, in Anglo-Saxon tradition, in Caedmon, come to mind.

Keywords:   American poetry, autobiography, Language school, Susan Howe, Frame Structures, Ron Silliman, Under Albany, lyric poetry, social self

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