I have a review of Sam Riviere’s latest (and now unavailable) poetry project, Kim Kardashian’s Marriage, up on Sabotage, in which I discuss post-internet poetry and alt lit, and briefly mention Steve Roggenbuck, Diane Marie, Crispin Best, Shaun Gannon, and Sian Rathore. There is are an awful lot more poets I could’ve mentioned, fading increasingly from the overtly (and self-avowedly) ‘alt lit’ and into conventional poetry communities, which is mostly evidence of its growing influence on poets (mostly under the age of 40).
In my review I use “post-internet poetry” rather than, say, “internet poetry” or “alt lit”. The latter two designations are quite specific, whereas using post-internet brings in some relevant critical discourse from visual arts and implies the incorporation of some of the devices of “internet poetry” and flarf back into something resembling conventional lyric. (Flarf has been ‘mainstream’ since 2009, supposedly.)
whilst artists are often placed as pre- or post-internet based on their age – as in, whether they grew up without or with the internet – their art, by birth, is post-internet, and so has no reason not to reflect the same pressures. It is fair to accuse pre-internet poetry written in a post-internet age of redundancy
I’ve felt obliged (to myself) to explain the redundancy part, which I would hope to achieve by linking the aesthetic priorities of post-internet poetry with the economic structure, and technical processes, of the internet. It’s a little easier to expect artists to have some commonality of practice when those common features are suggested to (if not imposed upon) them by the structures in which they operate, rather than deliberately ascribing towards any sort of school or shared aesthetic.
Anyway, this is ultimately a discussion about what it means to be contemporary, and what it means to be contesting that ground (or even making it a ground to be contested in the first place). Robert Archambeau has an interesting piece on this, (appropriately) in response to Kenneth Goldsmith, in discussing whether its possible to be more or less contemporary, or whether contemporaneity is simply ‘writing in the present time.’ Similarly, in the Q&A session after an online reading I watched the other night — which is a contemporary thing to do, don’t you know — Emily Berry said something like “it’s very hard not to be contemporary”, which is at least a good place to leave it.
As a current in contemporary poetry which avowedly rejects ‘traditional’ devices (however much we are to believe it) ‘internet poetry’ thereby sits outside conventional modes of poetry reading. As such, it suffers critically from faint praise or excessive excoriation, as many critics either ignore or rage against their critical failings. What’s more, alt lit especially, due to ubiquitous authorship and to alt lit’s extension into social media and identity, has a strong community of strongly connected artists. If anything, the community and its characters is more important than the aesthetic. I’m not sure this is necessarily a problem.
I am getting increasingly involved in the relationship between theory and practice, between what poets espouse and what their art reflects. It is interesting to read Kim Kardashian’s Marriage alongside Riviere’s piece ‘Unlike: Forms of Refusal in Poetry on the Internet’, which is often opaque and sometimes a little too caught up in its own political charge. (It is most notably too uncritical of its own ideas of ‘refusal’.) Even so, it covers most of the ground that I followed in my review, and I think suggests many of the points for further direction, albeit vaguely and somewhat inconsistently
The only response that I’ve found to Riviere’s piece is by the poet Joe Luna, which I didn’t have space to discuss in my review: http://fallopianyoutube.blogspot.co.uk/2012/01/neutral-facial-expression-internets.html