Welcome to the Critiques of Conceptualism

Remember the Marjorie Perloff attack on lyrical poetries from last year?

Remember the Matvei Yankelevich response to Perloff defending the gray area?

Remember Perloff's response?

No? Well, click on those links to get up to speed!

Well now this year, here comes another series of trenchant critiques of conceptual writing.

All fascinating to read:

Amy King analyzes capital and capitalism and the beastly po-biz:

Ultimately, these groups are unabashedly vying for central positions of power in order to enjoy the accompanying accesses, attentions and rewards – as the now-christened official verse culture’s “avant-garde” in a supposed attempt to destabilize that system by selling poetic techniques as their trademarked products. What do we call this alleged progress when its advancement requires the denigration of other poetries? Surely there is a plurality of poetries working right now in multiple ways to throw capital off-course –conceptually and materially. Why not acknowledge and explore the intersectionality of those diverse efforts?

Jill Magi argues for a different kind of economy at work in I'll Drown My Book: Conceptual Writing by Women:

Around what ethics and erotics does the work turn? Who is speaking for whom? Who is looking at whom? What is the subject? How is it treated? Conceptualism applied to writing may not help us read what is made; rather, it may serve us best as an engine to generate texts to be worked on, considered, revised. 

And Eileen Myles transparently critiques Perloff for her transparency. And points out the critical place of mourning in all this:

I feel like the back story of Marjorie’s avant garde mandate is mourning. I think Perloff has sustained an enormous amount of loss in her life and along with her championing of avant garde practice in her criticism she’s also deeply engaged in controlling the emotional climate of the room she’s in. Who gets to feel what when, and how! And that’s a problem because poetry is a community not an institution and we’re always at multiple purposes here in this room.

I'm happy for all of these critiques of conceptualism, but if you read the comments for example on Rumpus below King's articles, the majority of readers worldwide still don't seem to have any damn idea what conceptual writing even is. So I'd argue for both and. Something I think Myles and Magi and King and Yankelevich would all agree on. Though Goldsmith and Place and Perloff have other fish to fry, so to speak.