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Post-Avant Translation Practices: Language Poetry in Austria & The Low Countries

American Language poetry can be considered a neo-avant-garde movement, at least if we refer to Hal Foster’s definition of the term as the result of a “deferred action,” a later event that recodes the original (historical) avant-garde—e.g. Dada or Gertrude Stein—in a way that stresses “a continual process of protension and retension, a complex relay of anticipated futures and reconstructed pasts.”[1] This sometimes controversially labeled “post-avant”-poetry (a term promoted, among others, by Ron Silliman) gathers a great diversity of poets writing unconventional poetry, regarding language as a medium which is neither self-evident nor transparent, practicing anti-lyrical and disjunctive forms of poetry, using hybrid genres, reflecting on the goals and methods of poetic language and publishing in small presses.[2] Their poetry was received through essays and translations that are often recreated, not only in France but also in more peripheral Western European countries, such as the Austria and the Low Countries. We understand “peripheral” in the Casanovian sense, assuming that the “small literatures” of these countries are dominated by the literatures of greater language areas such as the English and French.[3]

Dutch and Austrian models are particularly salient insofar as their peripheral (in the Casanovian sense) position always already expresses the need for translative and mediating modes of writing capable of accounting for the contradictions of “transparent” poetic practice and theory (e.g. the specific impact of Wittgensteinian language-centered philosophy in Vienna). Examining two specific cases, that of Samuel Vriezen in the Low Countries and Peter Waterhouse’s (together with the “Group Versatorium”) translation projects involving Austria-based refugees, demonstrates how translator-poets create a different kind of network, involving a wider world extending beyond the communities of poets and publishers which helped develop first generation Language poets. These two cases show how working with different languages could contribute to addressing related sociopolitical issues.

Some History

Any attempt at defining or historicizing Language poetry would have to start by acknowledging the inadequate nature of a label which covers a number of writers who, even though they occasionally they may have shared similar creative and political agendas, have produced works which often have very little in common with each other, on a formal as well as on a content level. Among these writers the names that often stand out are those of Silliman, Charles Bernstein, Bob Perelman, Carla Harryman, Clark Coolidge, Lyn Hejinian, Steve McCaffery, and Michael Palmer, all of whom are featured in Silliman’s foundational anthology In the American Tree (1986), alongside more than thirty other poets. George Hartley, the author of the first monograph devoted to the movement, wisely decides not to attempt to define “that which most of the poets [he] discuss[es] have denounced—the label Language Poetry itself” and proceeds to argue via Silliman that Language poetry does not refer to a particular style or school but, rather, to “a community of concern for language as the center of whatever activity poems might be,” insisting on the importance of the “elaborate network of small presses and talk series” which has allowed for “a greater degree of cross-fertilization and of independence from the defining process of academic criticism than perhaps any group since the Black Mountain School.”[4] Tyrus Miller shares a similar view which aptly summarizes the conundrum surrounding the galaxy of writers grouped under the Language label:

The term “Language Poetry,” now part of the common parlance of the community of poetry writers, readers and critics, presupposes something crucial: that such a thing exists. And if such a thing exists, it is not simply because a number of poets, of varying qualities and with different orientations and purposes, reached a critical mass of publications and readings and set off small, fissile chains of signifiers in New York and the San Francisco Bay area. It is also because the term has been summoned into existence through successive acts of naming, first in the criticism and theory propagated by the poets themselves, then by critics who sat up and paid attention to what was going on in these centers of activity. It would be wrong to suggest that poetry has ridden to its slight prominence on the back of the triumphal cart of academic theory, and it is soon to be cast off and flattened under its wheels, to the cries of “But what is Language Poetry?” Yet it would be equally blind to the dynamics of cultural value that have shaped and, perhaps, limited the challenge of this work to disavow the close interaction of poetry, theory, criticism and publicity in its emergence as a definite trend in contemporary writing.[5]

The elusiveness and volatility of the label extends to considerations which lie outside the conditions of production and reception of Language writing and its alleged recuperation by the academy. According to Jackson Mac Low, an influential writer for many first generation Language poets, the term is ill chosen insofar as “the many works thrown under this rubric are no more ‘centered in language’ than a multitude of other literary works. Many depart from normal syntax. In many, what might be called ‘subject matter’ shifts rapidly. In some, such as many of “[his] own principles such as ‘objective hazard,’ ‘indeterminacy,’ and ‘lessening of the dominance of the ego’ may predominate over more usual concerns. But that a writer’s efforts are ever ‘centered in language’ is highly dubious.”[6]

Marjorie Perloff also recognizes the historicity and the fallibility of the term when she writes, as early as in 1991, that the label, “like all group labels, names of –isms, and so on, will probably have a limited life span as the designation of a specific poetic school, even as it will, paradoxically, become more significant as we begin to see ‘Language poetry’ as part of a larger movement that began in the sixties.”[7] She nonetheless recognizes that Language poetry, for want of a better word, enacts an important moment in postwar avant-garde poetics, one which is characterized by a desire to address the nature of utilitarian, instrumental discourse and considers ways of producing “an alternate language system” (Perloff, Radical Artifice, 49).

The nature of that alternate system has been variously described by critics and poets alike in the last fifty years or so. Suffice it to say, in the context of this essay, that Language poetry was largely an attempt to 1) foreground the materiality of language in a way that grows out of a critique of referentiality and stresses the importance of “the word as such”; 2) combat the idea that language, poetic or otherwise, is a neutral, transparent medium; 3) challenge the constraints of normative syntax in the name of a paratactic liberation of the word; 4) attack the supremacy of the plainspoken; voice-based lyric; 5) blur the generic and institutional boundaries between poetry and theory. The latter tendency displays an interest as much in the theoretical debates surrounding poetry as in the creative potentialities and complexities of theory itself, as attested by such models as Derrida’s Glas, a text considered by Perelman as a salient example of a generic and discursive “self-critical poetry” challenging accepted distinctions between creative and speculative forms of writing. “Genres,” Silliman has argued, “bedevil literature, even as they increase writing’s accessibility to a public reluctant to embark on any reading which is not immediately cozily familiar”; “by focusing and fixing expectations, [they] lower the performance anxiety of the reader, allowing works to be consumed.”[8]

This particular aspect of language-centered poetry is especially apparent in the proliferation of hybrid generic entities favored by major representatives of the movement such as Perelman’s versified essays, David Antin’s “talk poems”, Peter Inman’s and David Melnick’s post-lettrist minimalism, the prose poems of James Sherry and Silliman, Lyn Hejinian’s poetic, Oulipian autobiography, My Life, or Rosmarie Waldrop’s and Susan Howe’s appropriations and writing-throughs of Ludwig Wittgenstein and Emily Dickinson, respectively. What these experiments have in common is a deconstructive move aimed at laying bare the ideological premises in poetry writing which allegedly places the reader in a more active role in the creation of meaning. Such are the founding principles of Silliman’s 1980 manifesto of the “New Sentence,” which appears to have been inspired by another major proto-Language poet: Stein; one thinks not only of her “Cubist” still lifes collected in Tender Buttons (1914) but also of her section on “Sentences and Paragraphs” in How to Write (1931). More generally, Silliman’s manifesto insists on the “torqueing” of the linear, “syllogistic” movement of narrative, mimetic or discursive language as well as on the “writerly” effects (in the Barthesian sense) produced by such polysemic texts.[9]

Despite the multiplicity of formal and methodological approaches practiced by the Language poets themselves, these interrelated features would seem to constitute the lowest common denominator of a whole range of formal, methodological, and ideological practices practiced by writers who have since then pursued individual careers which exceed the paradigms established by their foundational collections and manifestos. As for the political dimensions of Language poetry’s formal experiments, they were considered fundamental from the very start of the “movement.” Silliman sees the liberation of the repressed, material signifier as an instrument of social and political struggle when he calls for a poetry which “can work to search out the preconditions of a liberated social fact” and thus “requires . . . recognition of the historic nature and structure of referentiality . . . placing the issue of language, the repressed signifier, at the center of the program, and . . . placing the program into the context of conscious class struggle” (Silliman, The New Sentence, 17–18).[10]

By forcing us to acknowledge the historicity of our expectations of what constitutes a poetic language, Language poetry has achieved a great deal and, as we will see in the next part, influenced, directly or indirectly, several generations of poets outside the English-speaking world. This influence not only became manifest in a number of recurrent modes (e.g., the anti-lyrical premises of much language-oriented poetry), forms (e.g., the prevalence of strategies of hybridization and dialogism) and practices (e.g., independent and poet-run presses), but also in the alternative translation practices favored by, say, Bernstein, who calls for a kind of translation which, far from being “a secondary representation of that which lives primarily elsewhere,” should preserve the strangeness of the original, “especially if it goes against colloquial English,” subordinating sound to word meaning, sometimes to the point of opting for homophonic renderings of the source texts.[11] Such “surface translation” practices affected the work of non-US language-oriented poets.

Language poetry in Austria

In Austria, there has been little reception of Language poetry before the turn of the millennium. This changed with the translations of works by Bernstein and Waldrop in recent years. A collective of young translators, which emerged from a conservatory at the University of Vienna around the poet Waterhouse, has, among other things, studied the Black Mountain College from a theoretical point of view and translated texts by the aforementioned Language poets. The translational work by the so-called group VERSATORIUM led not only to translation of works by Language poets, but also translations in the spirit of Language poetry, driven as they are by the methods and aesthetic aims of the movement. This will be in focus in the second part of this sub-chapter.


Although there was no direct reception of Language poetry in the 1970s and 1980s, there is nevertheless a strong tendency in Austria’s neo-avant-garde literature which has apparent similarities to some of the “tenets” of Language poets. We therefore suggest that “language poetry,” not in its strict meaning as a label for a movement or some poets in the U.S. (as stated above), may be loosely applied to some poets and groups in Austria, even before the time in which the term was used. This is definitely the case for the works of the so-called Vienna Group (1954 to ca. 1960) and for the individual members in their later production. Of course, there are several similar artistic tendencies in many different places in the world at the same time (Living Theatre, Allen Kaprow’s happenings, the Independent Group, the Situationists, etc.). What is important for the argument here is that the Vienna Group was a) not familiar with these movements at the onset and b) that a focus on language criticism and linguistic practices was decisively crucial for the Vienna movement. First and foremost, the poets of the Vienna Group “foreground the materiality of language in a way that grows out of a critique of referentiality and stresses the importance of ‘the word as such’”; moreover they counter the idea that language is a neutral, transparent medium, in this respect being in line with the Austrian tradition of philosophers and authors proposing a massive form of language criticism (Wittgenstein, Fritz Mauthner, Karl Kraus, Hugo von Hofmannsthal). Being inspired by the works of Stein, the poets of the Vienna Group liberated the single word from its being syntactically embedded in sentences and lines, thus challenging the constraints of normative syntax in the name of a paratactic liberation of the word. They produced montages with found footage (lexica, ads, poetry), they performed two literary cabarets (1958/59) as precursors of the later so-called “happenings.” As one of the members, Konrad Bayer, puts it in retrospect:

our intensest period of collaboration was from 1954 to 1959. a large number of collaborative works date from then, and arose from the most varied combinations of two, three or four of us. our individual works, however, also began to manifest a common style; this was indeed the aim. together we tackled the same themes from different aspects or according to different principles, tested our formal possibilities, discovered new methods and applied them.[12]

A combination of the Language poets’ language criticism and the act of placing the reader in a more active role in the creation of meaning could be prefigured in Oswald Wiener’s “cool manifesto” (1954), which aimed at abolishing conventionalized language and creating a new, artistic language which might better fit the Lebensgefühl [spirit] of the artist. As a consequence the “cool manifesto” states that the artist has to abandon emotion and empathy as his first virtue. Wiener describes his statement retrospectively as follows: “Everybody was responsible for the quality of his experience himself, the sovereign mind had no need for art at all, as the key is not producing art, but understanding.”[13] 

The literary cabarets were also about showing the “control of concrete situations through the use of language,” which sounds like an application, at least of the late, Wittgenstein. Of course, for some of the poets the situation had changed after the period after the dissolution of the Vienna Group. While Gerhard Rühm continued his work as a concrete poet and a “Universalkünstler,” Wiener was rather critical with regard to the possibilities of literature and art for knowledge production. In his later work Wiener denies any type of relation between a string of characters (words and sentences) and any kind of content, unless this relation lies within the individual who connects them in the course of understanding. “Content” may not be derived from the words used. “We conceived of language (Whorf) and of the social institutions based on language (as it had to be supposed) as the center for restrictions. the orbit of thought curves back to politics; one has to oppose his own production to the linguistic sovereignty of society, but to avoid getting tricked by it [the production]. This will later be the starting point for progressive conservatives to define ‘political correctness.’”[14] Of course, the blurring of boundaries between poetic text and theory, identified above as a central aspect of Language Poetry, is constitutive for Wiener's later work.[15] “The ‘real process of thinking’ was to be documented as far as possible, but the artwork was not the documentation. What mattered was not the process of ‘expressing’, which seemed to be problematic, but rather the observation of the impression that the submitted text created . . . . . . . Art as understanding, understanding as art. In the art process, the work of art only has the role of being neutralized by the effort of the viewer . . . . With this, however, the maker has become superfluous, his possible intention irrelevant” (Wiener, “Bemerkungen,” 23–25, emphasis in original).

Doing away with the artwork and stressing the production process instead is of course only very indirectly related to Language poetry. Another key concept of Language poetry, however, may be closely related to the work of Wiener. As suggested above, American Language writing conceives of language as our first environment. Likewise, in his improvement of central europe, a novel, Oswald Wiener may have asked the following questions: “How does language as an external stimulus influence consciousness? To the extent that it is capable of causing individual changes in orientation as a stimulus, it is just as much an environment as objects of the outside world that throw their rays of light onto the retina. In improvement of central europe the author tends to exaggerate this aspect and call language the environment.”[16]

Besides the Vienna Group, other Austrian poets working forcefully with language as a material and engaged in language critique included Ernst Jandl, Friederike Mayröcker, the early Peter Handke (Hornissen, Kaspar, Der Hausierer), and the politically motivated use of language in the novels and plays by Elfriede Jelinek. Of course, there are some doubts in the literature on these authors whether or not the concept of “language criticism” may be fruitfully applied to them.[17] Basically, Stuckatz denies that Jandl could be insightfully interpreted in the light of language criticism. Nevertheless, she discusses Jandl’s relation to Bernstein. “With a view to the traditional lines of the L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E movement, Jandl by no means marks a source for Bernstein’s experimentalism, but nevertheless forms an important bridge into the transatlantic space of new poetry after the Second World War” (Stuckatz, Ernst Jandl, 321). Bernstein translated poems by Jandl in the mode of a homophonic and structural surface translation, an aspect of Bernstein’s art of translation which will be addressed more thoroughly in the second part of this sub-chapter.


A later generation of Austrian poets working at least to some degree in the field of experimental literature emerged in the late 1970s. These poets (Ferdinand Schmatz, Franz Josef Czernin) did not conceive of themselves as a group, although they worked together at various stages. They were to some degree influenced by the Vienna Group and the Bielefeld Colloquium for New Poetry, an annually held symposium of concrete/experimental poets from 1978 to 2003. Among the participants at Bielefeld were Rühm, Oswald Wiener, Helmut Heißenbüttel, Franz Mon, and Oskar Pastior; it was organized by literary scholars Jörg Drews and Klaus Ramm.

Czernin and Schmatz had direct contact with Language poets, and translations of their works were included in “99 Poets/1999: An International Poetics Symposium,” edited by Bernstein—the anthology includes also translations of excerpts of Wiener’s the improvement of central Europe, a novel and of Jandl’s “der und die.” Bernstein writes in the introduction: “this issue is the result of years of informal exchange through translations, readings, and visits. . . . Many of the poets included here speak or read English and have some contact with those tendencies in contemporary American poetry to which I have been committed. Some of the poets have already been translated in English, or in any case have established some U. S. readers for their work. In this sense, this issue charts a series of related points of contact that in their constellation suggest if not an international postmodernism then a cross-national network of affinities and a contemporary intersection of possibilities. My intention has been to broaden, without vitiating, the lines of interest articulated in L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E . . . .”[18]

Interestingly, Czernin chose to hand in a philosophical fragment entitled “Context, Darkness and Light, the Romantic,” in which he speculates on the Romantic within his poetry and poetry in general: “For some poets, poetry might even be the expression of some nationality or region or gender. So every work of poetry appears as something or wants to be seen as, or understood as, something; but—in the name of that romantic vision of encompassing, experiencing, and knowing everything—poetry must also be seen as an indefinitely long series of things and contexts.”[19] This might have been inspired by Bernstein’s call for texts, which read: “What do you see as the most urgent, yet insufficiently recognized, or addressed, issue or issues for poetry and poetics at this moment?”—a call clearly inspired by Percy Shelley's dictum of poets as the “unacknowledged legislators of the world.” Moreover, Czernin's own work may be conceived as having gone through the “fire of experimental poetry” and then addressing old—e.g. romantic—conceptions of poetry. Czernin continues in the fragment, which was translated corroboratively by himself and Bernstein: “According to the romantic vision, time after time one gets from each of the named points of departure to all things and contexts. This image of poetry requires that any poetic epoch or region—no matter how far other points of departure may lie or how veiled and dark they may be—encompasses every other one or represents the best way to every other epoch or regions” (Czernin, “Context, Darkness and Light, the Romantic,” 80).

Politics of Poetic Form

This relates to Silliman’s politics of poetic form, albeit indirectly, the liberation of the repressed, material signifier as an instrument of social and political struggle” (Silliman, The New Sentence, 17–18). In a more explicit form this also holds for the work of Austrian author, editor, and author-publisher Heimrad Bäcker (1925–2003), who edited the major Austrian journal for experimental/concrete art and literature (“neue texte,” 1968–91) and ran the related publishing house “edition neue texte” (1976–2003). Authors like Rühm, Achleitner, Jandl, and Mayröcker were closely related to Bäcker’s publishing activities. Being thus closely related to the Vienna Group and experimental/concrete poetry, Bäcker’s major work nachschrift [transcript] unfolds in a similar, yet very different vein.[20] Adopting methods from concrete and visual poetry to the sources of the Holocaust and of the efforts for dealing with it historically and philosophically or in judiciary, Bäcker's nachschrift is an attempt to lay bare the (linguistic) foundations of the bureaucracy of industrialized mass murder of the National Socialists. Each and every line in the nachschrift is a quotation from the documents, using the methods of montages, cutting, serializing, juxtaposition, omitting. nachschrift is not as bold to the question of liberation of the repressed signifier. To the contrary, Bäcker’s aesthetic epistemological interest points in the direction of the question whether or not the language of bureaucracy played a significant role for the Holocaust. It also foregrounds how the methods and processes of dealing with such issues after 1945 have departed from the methods which had enabled the Holocaust.

Language Poetic Translations

From approximately 2010 onwards, the poetics of language poetry has actively influenced a group of students and poets around Waterhouse, working and publishing under the label “VERSATORIUM.”[21] We think they conceive with good reason of themselves as standing in the traditions we elaborated on in this article:

Walter Benjamin’s, Ludwig Wittgenstein’s and Stanley Cavell’s theoretical considerations on the one hand and the works of L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poetry on the other give us impulses for literal, pictorial and sonic translations that are unproductive enough to not take that last step into resultings but translet language rewind itself and be rewound by the appreciation of its complexity and agility.[22]

For many years, they have been working on translations of works by Bernstein and Waldrop, but also by Roberta Dapunt and currently some cantici of Dante Alighieri’s Commedia. They conceive of themselves as “a collective action on and in translation, working to turn over the original to find infinite grains of potential in waves of sound, sense, intellect, instinct, sight, cite, slight, slur, glue, flip, slip, slap, and all the get-go you can add in the plurivalences that make up the infrastructure of wor(l)d-consciousness.”[23]

Their method of translating does not aim at final results of masterful translation solutions. Instead, they expose the process along the way to translation and provide many different variations of translated text. In doing so, they often invoke methods developed by experimental literature (e.g., OULIPO), but also procedures explicitly related to Language Poetry, which they reapply to translation. Instead of conclusive results they open the room for inclusion: We allow everything. Also every kind of activity in the room. If somebody wants to go to sleep or change the order of the furniture, or read a different poem, or point . . . to something completely different, we’re not thinking about ‘It is permitted’. This way we don’t exclude any suggestions or versions. It’s highly inclusive, to the point that we don’t produce any [conclusive] results. We produce inclusions but no results.[24]

In their two-volume Charles Bernstein: Gedichte und Übersetzen, original texts by Bernstein are placed side by side with translations, together with comments by the translators, and “texts that could be regarded as records of intermediary stages of translation, between the rough draft and the finished version.”[25] One method closely related to Language Poetry may be identified in what Waterhouse calls alphabetical translation. “This is distinct from literal translation: instead of focusing on literal meaning, alphabetical translation looks at the meaning of letters as audiovisual elements which can be sorted into sequences” (Okulska, “Douglas Robinson, Charles Bernstein, VERSATORIUM,” 154). “Alphabetical translation” seems close to the concept of surface or homophonic translation, expanding the phonological focus of the latter by enriching the auditory with visual and graphic components. To give one typical example: In the Bernstein book we find a poem by Jandl translated by Bernstein and re-translated by VERSATORIUM. Jandl’s poem “der und die” (he and she) is translated by Bernstein homophonically into “dew and die,” which obviously has a very different meaning.[26] In the Jandl version a couple signified by the German definite article for male versus female gender “meet in a valley (she arrives first and waits for him); then the story gathers pace: from the first “breaking of the ice” (eis weg) to a physical encounter that leaves the lovers covered in dew that descends on the valley. Bernstein’s metonymic motivation primarily involves repeating the poem’s mechanism, which is one of formal constraint. This is the opening line of the poem in German and in English translation: “kam der und die kam und die kam vor ihm ins tal und” (Bernstein, Gedichte und Übersetzen, vol. 1.1, 155: can dew and die can and die can tie his sin tap and).

In his translation, Bernstein recreates the “same number of three-letter words arranged into an identical grid.” In doing so, he oscillates between semantic and “alphabetic” aspects as the dominants of his translation. The translation involves a metonymic repetition of the creative mechanism of the Jandl poem. Miriam Rainer’s (a member of VERSATORIUM) translation of Bernstein’s and Jandl’s poems is entitled “Tau und tod”; it is a translation of the translation by Bernstein and thus “a repetition of repetition in that it retains the principle of alternating alphabetical and semantic contiguities” (Okulska, “Douglas Robinson, Charles Bernstein, VERSATORIUM,” 159). Its first line goes like this: “käm tau und tod käm und tod käm fad hiß ins tob und” (mr [Miriam Rainer] in Bernstein, 156). VERSATORIUM’s multifaceted translations are impressive and expressive instantiations of a poetic generative principle with an almost infinite open-ended potential of being reiterated. They manifest or, better, dissolve the boundaries of the poetic principle at play in poetry, or, as Dennis Tedlock writes in a volume edited by Bernstein: “Translation into a further language at a later date . . . becomes a continuation of a process already under way in the poem itself.”[27]


Translation in VERSATORIUM’s sense may also be conceived of as a way of bringing to the fore of hidden aspects of an existing artwork. In this respect the translation project DIE, SHOULD SEA BE FALLEN IN subverts the ambivalent voices in Jelinek’s text “DIE SCHUTZBEFOHLENEN.” The group VERSATORIUM worked with refugees of the Refugee Protest Camp Vienna. Together they performed their version of the “play” on different stages in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland. While Jelinek’s play can be assumed to translate in a monological way a previously ideologically fixed conviction (the relationship between refugees and the country of asylum) into the language of drama, VERSATORIUM chooses the path of a multilingual questioning of this relationship. “The different languages converge in their phonetics,” just as the speakers (the persons playing) come together as a group in an abstract-concrete act in their humanity.[28] Or as Alexander Wöran has it,

we try to question, to question, to question, but hopefully to fragment and defragment this peculiar mechanism. This happens together with those who are here (no matter if they were there, came, or still want to come)— we are together, we create together. Together, from the development process to the performance itself and even further, an attempt was and is made to live, to think, and to recast a contrast to the old poetics of the border: ‘Austria. Germany. Georgia. Pakistan. Syria. Turkey. . . . .’ could possibly read in our case: ‘P Ö A S K T I E S R T R A E N I G C E H O T R Ü G R I K E E N I . . . ’ . . . [29]

In the work of VERSATORIUM, two central aspects of Language Poetry are brought to the next level of realization: poetics and politics. The two aspects are sublated into each other, or better: politics through poetic form is intermingled with poetic form through politics. In 2015, some members of VERSATORIUM founded an open collective called NEUBERG COLLEGE (NEW MOUNTAIN COLLEGE, alluding to Black Mountain College), with the distant aim of instantiating a student’s university in the small mountain village Neuberg an der Mürz (half way between Vienna and Graz).[30] The subtitle of NEUBERG COLLEGE is symptomatic for a contemporary manifestation of Language Poetry: translation of society, which hints at possible further political interventions and expansions of the Language Poetry paradigm.

Language in the Low Countries

In the Low Countries (Flanders and The Netherlands) the public got to know the Language poets by special issues, translations, and articles that mainly appeared in the first decade of the this century. A first attempt to make them known to the public goes back to much earlier, 1981, but failed. The journal Mandala (De Knipscheer) planned a special issue on Language poetry that for unknown reasons was not published.[31] The editor was the Dutch beat poet Harry Hoogstraten and final editing was done by the poet and translator Peter Nijmeijer. One of the four translators, Jan H. Mysjkin, later asked himself: “would the Dutch poetry have looked different if that issue had been published in the eighties?”[32]

A pioneer part in the reception was played by the journal yang, that had previously paved the way for a series of postmodern poets, amongst whom Dirk van Bastelaere surely was familiar with the American scene, especially the work of John Ashbery and Ron Silliman. In 1997 the special issue on “Expliciete lyriek” [Explicit Lyricism] came out with an essay in verse by Bob Perelman and an interview with Michael Palmer. The highlight of the reception was an issue of the journal yang, called “SOMSKY” and composed by editor and poet Geert Buelens, with translations of poems by Howe, Andrews, Hejinian, and once again Palmer. Palmer had been translated by another editor and poet Tom Van de Voorde, who later—in 2017—composed a whole anthology from his work.[33] Moreover an essay by Silliman was translated, to which Buelens added a critical note on the effectiveness of anti-capitalist critique by poets thus oriented towards language.[34] It is remarkable that between these two volumes, in 1998, yang also published a special issue on “post-Language poetry,” “De Amerika’s” [The America’s]: with poems by Peter Gizzi, Elizabeth Willis, Cole Swensen, Kenneth Goldsmith, and Craig Dworkin. According to Perloff, who edited the issue, they are characterized by more subjectivity and lyricism, more allusions and a return to (albeit fragmented) narrativity.[35]

The Dutch reception comes somewhat later, but caused a deeper stir and had a stronger effect on emerging and established experimental poets alike. The journal Parmentier brought out a special issue in 2008, a second in 2010, and a third in 2011.[36] This journal, now defunct, was directed by the poet Arnoud van Adrichem, who made his debut in Vis with poetry in a poetic form that was much loved by the Language-poets: the prose poem. The editorial of the 2008 special issue pointed at the breaking up of genre boundaries and at the political charge of the poems. In the introduction to the dossier, the poet Hans Kloos mentions poets with affinity to the Language-poets: Tonnus Oosterhoff, Marc Kregting, Nachoem M. Wijnberg, Frank van Dixhoorn, Lucas Hüsgen, Jan Baeke, and Astrid Lampe. Further he also mentions some older authors of experimental prose and poetry: J.F. Vogelaar and Sybren Polet.[37]

Even more poets, besides the already mentioned Kregting and Lampe, are associated with Language as in the build-up to an evening on Nieuwe Zinnen [New Sentences] in the literary workshop Perdu (Amsterdam) in that same year: Dirk van Bastelaere, Elisabeth Tonnard, Jeroen Mettes, Alfred Schaffer and the older experimental poet Sybren Polet.[38] If we also add the translator-poets Jan H. Mysjkin, Han van der Vegt, Frank Keizer and Ton van ‘t Hof we come to a nearly complete list of poets adhering at that time to the experimental tradition in Dutch literature and who can mainly be found now in and in the environment of the journal nY (the follower of yang).

Striking is the large number of so-called “postmodern” poets among them, a concept with a slightly different meaning from its American counterpart, which is dominated by Brian McHale’s favored characteristics such as “erasure”, “aleatory and mechanical procedures,” “sampling and the ‘found,’” “occlusion” and “dispersal” of the lyric I,  “replenishment of narrative,” and “spatial turn.” The postmodern poetry in The Netherlands is more affected by a poststructuralist perspective, which means that incoherence and polyphony are seen as prototypical characteristics.[39] A common point in both the Dutch and the English perspective view on postmodernism is the prominent position of the “crisis of the I.”

If we look at the reception of Language poetry in Flanders, where postmodernism emerged a bit earlier than in the Netherlands, we have to mention poets who made a debut in the nineties after the slightly older poets like Van Bastelaere, born around 1960, had made their first appearance. The most important of the Flemish poets born in the late sixties or seventies is no doubt Jan Lauwereyns (°1969).[40] Together with the Dutch Van Adrichem he wrote the collection of essays Stemvork [Tuning Fork] (2010), in which Silliman was prominently present—actually this kind of collective projects has also been inspired by the Language poets. To these “postpostmodern”’ poets also those belong who edited yang around 2000, the journal that introduced the postmoderns in the second half of the eighties: Buelens and Van de Voorde.[41] Their poems aim at bringing in more everyday reality, use impersonal language and thus promote reflection on (social) commitment.[42]

I breakfast with Bertolt Brecht under the linden.

My plate shines yellow, his an orange glow.

The fried egg, burst open between us both,

no longer screams for attention:

thanks to the sun, thank heavens.

‘Mein Lieber Freund’, he casually remarks,

‘Do you believe in Eastern Europe?’

The treetops a tightrope, each bole

a crammed tea ball. As we bid farewell

he gives me the recipe for a cocktail

long gone out of fashion, and asks me never

again to hammer at the truth. Danke schön I say,

for letting me hold him by the arms, ab und zu.[43]

So, we no longer have to ask ourselves in this year 2023 what Dutch poetry would have looked like if the Language-poets had been presented to the Dutch-speaking public in a more timely fashion. The question we should ask today is rather what Dutch-language poetry looks like today, now that it has undergone their influence and impact. The interest in the different generations of Language poets has only been growing since 2010, just like the influence of Jeroen Mettes, is becoming more and more manifest in a group of young poets. It is no wonder that the attention mainly goes to Goldsmith, who in this period comes up to the fore with bestselling essays such as Wasting Time on the Internet (2016), but also to Gizzi, to whom a whole evening was devoted in Perdu (Amsterdam) and who made his appearance at Poetry International Rotterdam.[44]

How can we account for this broad reception of Language-poets? We owe it to the efforts of the mentioned journal editors, translators and poets and also to the digital availability of texts. Kregting presumes that also the “flarf”-poetry has been working beneficially.[45] The large reception no doubt also has to do with a changed literary climate, in which commitment has become important again, due to economic factors (financial crisis, the rightward shift in society, the migration issue, etc.). Since protest poetry is present in abundance, for the moment the beneficial contribution of the Language-poets will not come to an end.

Ideological stance

The poets from the Low Countries with the deepest affinity with the Language-poets should not be considered a group but a flexible network, as is the case with the Austrians and Language-poets themselves. In the Netherlands we think in the first place of Mettes (1978–2006), a poet who committed suicide before his main work had been published, and his friend Samuel Vriezen (°1973), composer, poet and editor of the journal nY.[46] That they did belong to the same network and shared a “networkpoetics” becomes clear by the fact they both paid tribute to the same predecessor, the communist poet Herman Gorter, which is an indication of their political commitment and orientation.[47]

In his article “Politieke poëzie: enige aantekeningen. Poëtica bij N30 (versie 2006)” Mettes considers poetry as nothing else than protest, not simply by content, but by its deepest nature: rhythm.[48] “Rhythm is resistance against language, time and space . . . .”[49] He pleads in defense of political poetry, “poetry that dares to reflect upon itself, about its language and its world, and the problematic relationship between those two – poetry that is this relationship as a problem” (Mettes, “Political Poetry,” 35). This article constitutes the poetics of his “long non-narrative prose poem” N30, that was posthumously published in 2011. This text follows the non sequitur-principle of Silliman’s New Sentence, that also is referred to in “Political Poetry”: from sentence to sentence the world seems to land into a new world. In addition to Silliman—who appears to be the poet most often cited in the Low Countries—Mettes also mentions Andrews in his article.

Vriezen’s collection of essays Netwerk in eclips (2016) [A Network in Eclipse] is partially based on weblogs, that he kept up from 2006 till 2013. The book is a “requiem” for this new form of writing outrun by the new social media.[50] Both Silliman and Mettes kept up such a blog, that invites to intense communication, but in the case of Mettes ended into a white page (his suicide). In Netwerk in eclips Vriezen stands up for experimental literature, more specifically for what he calls “experimental realism,” literature that shows the “reality deficit,” that uses a language with an paradoxical status, showing that at the same time she is part of reality but does not coincide with it (Vriezen, Eclips, 225). In an unpublished text on the characteristics of the Language-poets he traces back the origin of that notion “experimental realism” to the subtitle of Silliman’s anthology In the American Tree (1986/2002): “Language—Realism—Poetry.”

In another text, “Poëzie als werkelijkheid” [Poetry as Reality], Vriezen lists the already known characteristics of “langpo” from formal experiment in radical discontinuity to generic and theoretical hybridity geared towards a critical reflection on the relation between language and reality.[51] Perhaps more than anything, Vriezen shares the ideological solicitudes of Bernstein, such as establishing ‘counterconventions’ against conventions of language and society. Despite this political commitment Vriezen never calls for direct action, with the exception of his interview of two activists of We Are Here (developed from an encampment in Amsterdam) and the organization emanating from it Here to support for the journal nY. However, he sees intellectual commitment not so much in action as in the recognition of one’s own indefinite position towards reality (Vriezen, Eclips, 242).

Thus, Vriezen embodies the experimental attitude of Language-dichters better than any other Dutch-speaking poet. Not only does his essay collection contains a number of previously published translations and adaptations of Language-poets, but his own early poetical work is also indebted to their forms, as already becomes clear from the title 4 zinnen (2008) [4 sentences/senses]. Its length and the fragmentation enacted by the typography, its discontinuity (e.g., the multiple uses of non sequitur) and repetitions, the linguistic reflections and sudden critical intrusions of everyday language in the nearly 30-page poem “Gewrichten” [Joints] reminds us of the main staples of Language poetry. Joints allow limbs to move, as language makes reality adopt ever-changing configurations (Vriezen, 4 zinnen, 19–48).

Vriezen is also indebted to the Language poets in his translation practice. Not only did he include translations of Kit Robinson, Peter Gizzi, Barrett Warren, and others in Netwerk in eclips, but he also adopted their recreative translation. An amusing example is the homophone translation of Bernstein’s “Transegmental Drift” from the collection Recalculations (2013), that he read for public on an evening in Amsterdam dedicated to the work of Bernstein and that of Susan Bee.[52] “Transegmental drift” was presented in three different adaptations; such collective efforts and collaborations exemplify strong bond and alliances both amongst Language poets and their followers.

Of course Vriezen’s translation is far more than a pure sound play, at least if we realize that Bernstein’s poem takes up an idea from Stewart’s “Catching the Stylistic D/rift: Sound Defects in Woolf’s the Waves” (1987).[53] “Transegmental drift” means that one “cut[s] semantic units into constituent phonemes to multiply their meanings, and use[s] visual or sonic patterning to interrupt, twist, or tangle syntax”.[54] Also Vriezen’s visual adaptation illustrates how the sound of language creates and proliferates its own meanings.[55]

Transsegmental drift

Charles Bernstein

It’s the mind makes a muck of these Sylvan

Occlusions and mannered pronouncements.

“Abominable!” is the word, beastly –

Sound obtruding into the poem like a

Pork rind at a Bar Mitzvah. Just give the

Twist a break, or several. Nailed down to

24-hour fog duty. The uni-

forms are soiled and ill fitting. But jeans

Regularize all that. The stuff of themes:

Cut and paste, morose, interdenomi-

nation, laser-sharp lobotomy. The

Door the door closes. As when a conti-

nental divide becomes metaphor for

Swimming laps (summary judgment). Goad the

Goalie but leave me to fall to pieces

With my jet skies on. The waves roll, taking

No toll. How about you?

Terreinziek mijn taaldrift

(naar Charles Bernstein)

Iets te mijnent maakt amok of niet zelfs aan

Elk klusje een zin. De minnaar der Bron, Ouwens’ mens,

Al bomend rebels, is de waard best lief.

Sonde op ’t ruwe ding: een toeziend poëem. Lijken-

pikker in de theebar mist wat jus: ’t gif der

Twist – een preker zevert al en ijlt. Dante:

’t went, die voorouder. Fok de juten, zo’n een-

vorms verzuild land wil vitten. Wat je ont-

regelt herrijst als wet. De staf of ’t mes

Ketent ’t best, maar o, zo intern. Dien om een

Natie een lezerschap, lobotomist die

Door de deur klost als wie nu conti-

nu een taaldivident toekomt, metafoor ver-

zwindt in galop. Is zoemen je dreigement? Goed zo,

Kolibrie. Te leven met toeval, top! Nietzsche

Wist mijn chats – gezonder weefsel is teken

Noch taal. Huil een beetje.

Although at first sight this adaptation (or better: recreation) does not seem to aspire to anything more than coming as close to the sound of the original as possible, Vriezen’s version still attempts to find a semantic equivalent for the original poem: his poem too is about language that drifts away (“Nietzsche wist mijn chats.”) The new poem seeks faithfulness by maintaining the hyphenation of the original, by keeping self-referential keywords, such as “poem” and “metaphor” and by reproducing the subjective turn at the end of the poem. Vriezen’s poem differs from Bernstein’s verse because the occlusion in thought and speech seems to get an external appearance, and emerges in a more spatial equivalent (already announced by Bernstein’s “conti/nental divide.”)

This type of translation, that lets the sounds go their own way, can be likened to Vriezen’s own poetic production. One of his poems was interspersed by quotations from Gilles Deleuze’s “L’actuel et le virtuel” (from Différence et Répétition, 1968) that look like intrusions, whereas the poem is actually constructed along two sets of eight fragmented sentences stemming from two parts of Deleuze’s text. The way in which Vriezen works with Deleuze’s text is reminiscent of Bernstein’s description; in “Transegmental drift” of “Sound obtruding into the poem,” while pointing at other hybrid poetry-laced-with-French-theory experiments such as Perelman’s 1993 “The Marginalization of Poetry,” which engaged with Derrida’s Glas (1974), itself an attempt to “foreground [the] clash between poetry and prose, academia and poetry.”[56]

Concluding remarks

The texts examined so far testify to converging and diverging poetic practices across different temporal and spatial fields which exceed normative discourses about formal experimentalism, whether or not of the language-centered variety. As the examples of Wiener, Waterhouse and many others suggest, not only are certain forms of (anti-)formalism entirely compatible with social critique but thinking about form does prompt a reassessment of how radical thinking at the level of the sentence, the word or even the letter—far from relieving the signifier of its signifying function—can give shape to actual forms of political resistance acknowledging the necessary centrality of language critique to concrete projects of opposition. In this respect Bernstein’s surface translation, Waterhouse’s Versatorium Group and Vriezen’s “networkpoetics” emerge as so many possible ways to develop counter-practices and tactics which promote what Andrews has described as “an unveiling of the fundamental signification system, the nature of the sign in language,” one which becomes a necessary pre-condition for any meaningful investigation of the nature of the social order.[57]

In many ways, the Versatorium translation projects involving Austria-based refugees constitutes a climactic demonstration of how an examination of the social value of the signifying chain and even phonetics itself is liable to delineate a praxis of social cooperation based on a prior laying bare of the framing process of reference and referentiality. Such forceful resistance to the transparency of the word unites all the language-oriented writers and trends mentioned and discussed in this essay. To various extents and intensities it also helps define the determinants and specificities of Language Poetry within the diverse, porous and sometimes conflicting histories of the neo-avant-garde(s). It is from this momentum that further extensions and complications of the language-centered paradigm will emerge in ways that, hopefully, will continue to inspire individual and collective efforts that address the relations of production and consumption of the sign without downplaying its discursive and referential role.


[1] Hal Foster, The Return of the Real: The Avant-Garde at the End of the Century (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1996), xii, 29.

[2] The term is frequently discussed in Ron Silliman’s blog:

[3] Pascale Casanova, “The Small Literatures,” in The World Republic of Letters (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004), 175–204.

[4] George Hartley, Textual Poetics and the Language Poets (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1989), xii.

[5] Tyrus Miller, “Public Poetry: Ron Silliman and the Value of Writing,” Quarry West 34, Ron Silliman Special Issue (1998), 100.

[6] Jackson Marc Low cited in Ron Silliman, In the American Tree (Orono: University of Maine, 1986), 491.

[7] Marjorie Perloff, Radical Artifice: Writing Poetry in the Age of Media (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1991), 49.

[8] Bob Perelman, The Marginalization of Poetry. Language Writing and Literary History (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996), 10; Ron Silliman, “New Prose, New Prose Poem,” in Postmodern Fiction: A Bio-Biobliographical Guide, ed. Larry McCaffery (New York: Greenwood Press, 1986), 157.

[9] Ron Silliman, The New Sentence (New York: Roof, 1987), 91.

[10] Adopting a more general view, Marjorie Perloff insists on the capacity for Language poetry to integrate a whole diversity of utilitarian and non-utilitarian discourses with a view to making contact “with the world as well as the word” (Marjorie Perloff, The Dance of the Intellect: Studies in the Poetry of the Pound Tradition [Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1996], 181).

[11] Charles Bernstein, “Breaking the Translation Curtain: The Homophonic Sublime,” in “Altérités dans la langue/Alterities in Language,” L’Esprit créateur 38, no. 4 (1998): 64–70, 64.

[12] Konrad Bayer, “the vienna group,” Times Literary Supplement, September 3, 1964, quoted after: Konrad Bayer, Sämtliche Werke, ed. Gerhard Rühm (Wien: ÖBV–Klett-Cotta 1996), 724-725.

[13] Oswald Wiener, “Anfänge,” in Konrad Bayer: Texte, Bilder, Sounds, ed. Thomas Eder and Klaus Kastberger (Wien: Zsolnay-Verlag, 2015), 285.

[14] Oswald Wiener, “Bemerkungen zu einigen Tendenzen der Wiener Gruppe,” in Die Wiener Gruppe, ed. Wolfgang Fetz and Gerald Matt (Wien: Kunsthalle Wien, 1998), 27.

[15] Thomas Eder, “Erkenntnis!: Der Weg Oswald Wieners aus der Literatur und Kunst,” manuskripte 40, no. 147 (2000): 125–29.

[16] Thomas Eder, “Nachwort,” in Oswald Wiener, Die verbesserung von mitteleuropa, roman, ed. Thomas Eder (Wien, Salzburg: Jung und Jung, 2013), 213.

[17] Katja Stuckatz, Ernst Jandl und die internationale Avantgarde (Berlin/Boston: Walter de Gruyter, 2016).

[18] Charles Bernstein, introduction to “99 Poets/1999: An International Poetics Symposium,” ed. Charles Bernstein, special issue, Boundary 2 26, no. 1 (1999): 1–281, 1–2.

[19] Franz Josef Czernin, “Context, Darkness and Light, the Romantic,” in “99 Poets/1999,” 78–81, 79.

[20]Heimrad Bäcker, nachschrift (Linz, Wien: edition neue texte 1986) and Heimrad Bäcker, nachschrift 2 (Graz, Wien: edition neue texte/Droschl 1997); Heimrad Bäcker, transcript, trans. Patrick Greaney and Vincent Kling (Dallas, TX, London: Dalkey Archive Press, 2010). Bernstein commented on the English translation in Jacket2 on February 23, 2012:




[24] “Peter Waterhouse, THE VERSATORIUM PLAYBOOK: Charles Bernstein & Peter

Waterhouse | Woodberry Poetry Room,” Harvard University, recorded seminar, (starting at 00:26:28).

[25] Ines Okulska, “Douglas Robinson, Charles Bernstein, VERSATORIUM, and Metonymic Repetition: Tropes as a Practical Tool for Translation Criticism,” in “Word and Image in Translation,” special issue, Przekładaniec (2018): 140­­–166, 154; See Charles Bernstein, Gedichte und Übersetzen, vol. 1.1, trans. VERSATORIUM (Vienna: Edition Korrespondenzen, 2013) and Charles Bernstein = Karl Elektric, Gedichte und Übersetzen, vol. 1.2, trans.VERSATORIUM (Malta/Oslo/Wien: Quintano, 2017).

[26] ej [Ernst Jandl] in Charles Bernstein, Gedichte und Übersetzen, vol. 1.1, trans. VERSATORIUM (Vienna: Edition Korrespondenzen, 2013), 154.

[27] Dennis Tedlock, “Towards a Poetics of Polyphony and Translatability,” in Close Listening: Poetry and the Performed Word, ed. Charles Bernstein (New York/Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), 178–99, 189.

[28] VERSATORIUM, eds., DIE SHOULD SEA BE FALLEN IN, 2, in collaboration with Drama Forum, Graz (Graz: VERSATORIUM, 2015).

[29] Alexander Wöran, The bold letters in the German original form the word “ÖSTERREICH,” which means Austria.

[31] Mandela 4, no. 3, 1981. Numbers 1, 2, and 4 were published.

[32] Jan H. Mysjkin in Marc Kregting, “Jeroen Mettes (3),” February 3, 2012: Translations by Mysjkin of Barrett Watten were finally published in Parmentier 19, no. 4 (2010): 91–99:

[33] Michael Palmer, De beloftes van glas, trans. Tom Van de Voorde (Gent: PoëzieCentrum, 2017).

[34] Geert Buelens, “Opgelet. Hier spreekt het kapitalisme,” yang 36, no. 3, ‘SOMSKY’ (2000): 394–95.

[35] Marjorie Perloff, “Introductie: jongere Amerikaanse dichters,” yang 34, no. 2 (1998): 183–85.

[36] The dossiers on “T=A=A=L” [L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E] and “Documentaire poëzie” [Documentary poetry] can be found online:;

[37] Hans Kloos, “Lezer, schrijver, hoe gaat het gedicht,” Parmentier 17, no. 2 (2008): 16.

[39] Jos Joosten and Thomas Vaessens, “Postmodernisme in de Nederlandse en Vlaamse poëzie. Een verkenning,” Nederlandse letterkunde 7 (2002): 1–27.

[41] For Buelens translations:; For Van de Voorde translations:

[42] Just like some Language-poets a kindred poet like Paul Bogaert (°1968) works with clichés and general expressions, having an anti-lyrical effect.

[43] Tom Van de Voorde, Liefde en aarde (Gent: PoëzieCentrum), 46.

[44] Translations are: “De man die taal plukt: interview met Kenneth Goldsmith,” yang 42 (4), 2006: 519–27 and “Als ik mijn kinderen zou opvoeden zoals ik mijn boeken schrijf was ik allang in de cel beland,” Parmentier, trans. Arnoud van Adrichem, Frank Keizer and Samuel Vriezen. See:; for more on Peter Gizzi, see avonden and Recently, in 2020 a collection of poems, Archeophonica, was translated by Jan H. Mysjkin for publishing house Vleugels (2016).

[45] Marc Kregting, “Jeroen Mettes (4),” February 8, 2012, Also Samuel Vriezen has written about flarf-poetry in Netwerk in eclips. Essay (Amsterdam: Wereldbibliotheek, 2016), 127–42.

[47] On Mettes, see: and Vriezen in his essay “De leermeester van het verlangen,” in Eclips, 308–20.

[48] Jeroen Mettes, “Politieke poëzie,” in Weerstandsbeleid. Nieuwe kritiek, ed. Piet Joostens, Frans-Willem Korsten, and Daniël Rovers (Amsterdam: Wereldbibliotheek, 2011), 343–57.

[49] Jeroen Mettes, “Political Poetry: A Few Notes. Poetics for N30,” Continental 2, no. 1 (2012): 29–35, 30.

[50] Samuel Vriezen, Netwerk in eclips, 20.

[51] Samuel Vriezen, “Poëzie als werkelijkheid: over ‘The Alphabet’ van Ron Silliman,” Rekto Verso (2009): 38.ëzie-als-werkelijkheid-over-alphabet-van-ron-silliman.

[52] Charles Bernstein, “Charles Bernstein, Susan Bee, Ton van ’t Hof, Samuel Vriezen, and Jane Lewty at Perdu, Amsterdam (audio),” Jacket, July 9, 2015.; for the text of “Transegmental Drift,” see

[53] “Stewart’s method of phonotextual reading follows the transsegmental (sic) drift of phonemic particles along the signifying chain.” (Jed Rasula, “Understanding the Sound of not Understanding,” in Close listening, 253.

[54] Adalaide Morris, “Forensic Listening: NourbeSe Philip’s ‘Zong!,’ Caroline Bergvall’s ‘Drift,’ and the Contemporary Long Poem,” Dibur, no. 4 (Spring 2017), The Long Poem: 77–87.’s-zong-caroline-bergvall’s-drift-and-contemporary-long-poem.

[55] With regard to this poem, see Stewart’s own interpretation in Stewart Garrett, “‘Secondary Vocality’ and the Sound Defect,” in Sound Effects: The Object Voice in Fiction, ed. Jorge Sacido-Romero & Sylvia Mieszkowski (Leiden: Brill Rodopi, 2015), 31.

[56] Bob Perelman, “A Counter Response,” Jacket 2 (1998),

[57] Bruce Andrews cited in The Politics of Poetic Form, ed. Charles Bernstein (New York: Roof, 1993), 36.