"I always try to avoid the term 'experimental' when discussing post-avant writing, not just because of implications of the retro scientism in this age of stolen nuclear missiles, genetically modified corn & weaponized anthrax – that by itself is problematic – but because of the insinuation that the writers of an experimental work (e.g., The Grand Piano: An Experiment in Collective Autobiography, on whose subtitle I was outvoted) don’t really know what they’re doing. That’s the flip side of the same complaint Bob Perelman makes in IFLIFE:
the gestures that Language poetry triumphantly says are still radical are actually super-codified
I've called one vein of my work experimental, avant, post-langpo/post-Language Poetry, and conceptual, but have never settled on one term. The problem with conceptual poetry is that some of what goes for "mainstream" poetry (another problematic term) is also idea- or concept-driven, i.e. the work of Peter Reading and Geoffrey Hill, and possibly also Christopher Logue's War Music. In agreement with Silliman's statement above, I've tended to find "experimental" the least descriptive; and I regard "post-langpo" as too school-centred for definitional accuracy. I suppose for now I'll use avant and conceptual as placeholders while I hold out for a more precise descriptor or name. Any thoughts, ideas?
*Used here with Silliman's permission.