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Posted inBooks

Mechanical Brides and Theatrical Politics: Laura Mullen’s Enduring Freedom

In 2009, Stephen Burt identified a new poetics for the twenty-first century, a poetics that insists on a kind of phenomenological permanence and solidity, on a material “thingness” rather than a “showy insubstantiality.” In his widely read essay “The New Thing,” Burt argues that there has been a marked shift away from a poetry of “illogic” and “associative leaps,” which dominated the 90s, toward a poetry of “[r]eference, brevity, [and] self-restraint,” toward an aesthetic that “eschew[s] sarcasm and tread[s] lightly with ironies.” After judiciously analyzing an array of compressed poems by writers such as Jon Woodward, Devin Johnston, and Graham Foust and after connecting the New Thing’s concern with exteriority to the documentary modes of Mark Nowak and Juliana Spahr, Burt takes a preliminary stab at historicization…