Marjorie Perloff: A bibliographic essay

Perloff lecturing in 1965. Image courtesy of Marjorie Perloff.

With her work now spanning over four decades of publication, the preeminent critic and scholar Marjorie Perloff has amassed a body of writing on avant-garde/experimental poetics, modernism, postmodernism, pedagogy, and a host of other topics that remains at once complex and accessible, insightful and provocative. She has championed dozens of marginalized writers and artists whose difficult or seemingly indecipherable work has aroused the castigation or neglect of other established literary critics; her essays thus frequently target those very academics, artists, and institutions whose assumptions and structural deficiencies reveal a bias toward aesthetic conservatism. She has also continued a legacy of criticism whose practitioners, Guy Davenport and Hugh Kenner among them, utilized their distinct critical voices to investigate and contextualize various literary subjects. Her work, however, brings such methods into a climate distinguished by its post-postmodernism and techno-centricity, whose myriad indeterminacies and conceptualisms have complicated the “mot juste” of modernism (“The Fascination of What’s Difficult: Emily Dickinson and the Theory Canon”). In this way, she has formulated not so much a literary canon as a set of historical and cultural contingencies that — like many of her subjects — feed into and complicate one another. For an apt and comprehensive overview of Perloff’s career, one would do well to start with Peter Barry’s entry in The Encyclopedia of Literary Critics and Criticism (1999).

For an experienced reader of Perloff’s work, the intentional interconnectedness of her books, essays, reviews, and interviews at once deepen her pedagogical and polemical inclinations while anticipating the very “digital tunnels” and networked experimentalisms she has elucidated in her most recent book, Unoriginal Genius (2010). However, an uninitiated reader may find such an oeuvre daunting — especially if s/he is researching a specific figure within the scope of Perloff’s bibliography. Indeed, a single essay might touch on Goethe, Rimbaud, William Carlos Williams, Samuel Beckett, John Ashbery, and many others, as is the case in her essay “Lucent and Inescapable Rhythms: Metrical ‘Choice’ and Historical Formation” (1998). In this bibliographic essay, I will attempt to group Perloff’s writings by their major themes and figures; I will arrange them in loosely chronological order (i.e. romantic/premodern subjects followed by modernist subjects, etc.), ending with a grouping of her works on pedagogy and poetics. Though I will deploy terms such as “modernism” and “postmodernism” to differentiate historical periods, my intent is that they provide flexible frameworks rather than strict delineations.

Because much of Perloff’s work is freely available online, I have provided links when possible. This essay will ideally serve as a sort of “living document” that can be updated with respect to Perloff’s future publications, and/or refined according to the suggestions of other Perloff scholars. To aid readability, I have only included partial information regarding the publication of each essay, book, review, or interview cited. For more information, please refer to the bibliography at the conclusion of this essay.

Modernist inceptions: Goethe/Yeats

Although Marjorie Perloff’s knowledge of literary history is remarkably vast, most of her work, as we shall see, addresses topics related to twentieth- and twenty-first-century literature. There are, however, two major figures to whom she has dedicated a good deal of attention, and who could feasibly be characterized as romantic or premodern: William Butler Yeats and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Indeed, one of her earlier works, “Yeats and Goethe” (1971), explores the Goethe’s influence on the famous Irish poet. Perhaps even more tellingly, Perloff’s first published book, Rhyme and Meaning in the Poetry of Yeats (1970), deals exclusively with Yeats and the formal implications presented by his work; an essay published in 1995, “Teaching Yeats’s Sound Structures,” would echo that text’s themes. Dated even earlier than Rhyme and Meaning, “Yeats and the Occasional Poem: ‘Easter, 1916’” (1968), provides an in-depth reading of that famous war poem, and predates her 2005 contribution to The Oxford Handbook of British and Irish War Poetry, “‘Easter, 1916’: Yeats’s First World War Poem.” An analysis of Yeats’s “Coole Park and Ballylee, 1931,” “‘Another Emblem There’: Theme and Convention in Yeats's ‘Coole Park and Ballylee, 1931’” (1970), marks another early exploration of Yeats’s poetics; this interest in Yeats’s individual poems was reiterated yet again in 2007 with “How to Read a Poem: W. B. Yeats’s ‘After Long Silence.’” “‘The Tradition of Myself’: The Autobiographical Mode of Yeats” (1975) explores the connections between Yeats’s personal life and writing, and represents an early inception of Perloff’s interest in personal/cultural histories as filtered through literature and art. In the more recent “‘An Image from a Past Life’: Beckett’s Yeatsian Turn” (2007), Yeats serves as a lens through which to read Beckett’s notion of failure. One might also turn to her booklength study of Pound’s influence, Dance of the Intellect: Studies in the Poetry of the Pound Tradition (1985), in which Yeats — one of Pound’s early masters — makes several appearances throughout the essays comprising that collection.

Her major essays on Goethe date from around the same period (late ’60s/early ’70s) as those on Yeats, the most notable of which are “The Autobiographical Mode of Goethe: Dichtung und Wahrheit and the Lyric Poems” (1970) and “The Challenge of the German Lyric: Goethe and Heine in Translation” (1983). Goethe also becomes entangled with a more personal context in the second essay/chapter of Vienna Paradox (2003), “German by the Grace of Goethe” (73–120), in which Germany’s allegiance to its literary hero complicates histories both filial and national.

Modernism (early twentieth century)

Though it is perhaps anachronistic to divide Yeats and Goethe as such from early modernism, they do allow an opening into the broader spectrum of Perloff’s thematic concerns, many of which open with those writers and artists operating in the early twentieth century. Of these figures, one of the most imperative to Perloff’s work is Ezra Pound. An entire book, the aforementioned Dance of the Intellect, is dedicated not only to Pound’s writing, but even more so, to his influence across the century. The essays contained in this volume, including such titles as “Pound/Stevens: Whose Era?” and “Postmodernism and the Impasse of Lyric,” provide an expansive reading of Pound’s enigmatic poetics, criticism, and correspondence. However, Dance of the Intellect is by no means the end-all of Perloff’s writing on Pound. Like Cage, Duchamp, and many others, he is a frequently recurring character throughout her criticism. One might turn to such essays as “The Search for ‘Prime Words’: Pound, Duchamp, and the Nominalist Ethos” (2001) and “Pound and Rimbaud: The Retreat from Symbolism” (1975). “The Contemporary of our Grandchildren: Pound’s Influence” (1985) further explores the depth and complexity of Pound’s lingering prominence in various poetries old and (made) new.

It is from Pound that we might begin to confront the dilemmas of innovation and community in early modernism/avant-garde culture. Perloff has written a good deal on then-nascent avant movements like Cubism, Dadaism, and, perhaps most pronouncedly, Futurism. Doubtless, the most cohesive booklength study by Perloff on modernism is filtered through Marinetti’s infamous movement in The Futurist Moment: Avant-Garde, Avant-Guerre, and the Language of Rupture (1985/2003), which contains essays such as “The Invention of Collage” (1983) and “Violence and Precision: The Manifesto as Artform” (1984), both apt introductions to the currents of the early European avant-garde and its machinic impulses. Outside of The Futurist Moment, “Why Futurism Now?” (1988), “‘Grammar in Use’: Wittgenstein/Gertrude Stein/Marinetti” (1996), and “The First Futurist Manifesto Revisited” (2007) all serve to augment her explorations of the Futurists’/early modernists’ artistic practices.

The essays “Cubist Collaboration/Abstract Assemblage: The Avant-Garde Artist’s Book” (2008) and “Collage and Poetry” (1998) further bespeak an interest both in the specific contexts and legacies permeating European and American avant-garde practices. Part of the difficulty in locating a “definitive” Perloff work on modernism lies in the fact that her essays are often quite specific to movements or figures; however, one might turn to “The Aura of Modernism” (2005) or “Epilogue, Modernism Now” in Bradshaw and Dettmar’s A Companion to Modernist Literature and Culture (2006) for contemporary takes on the consequences and ongoing problems presented by modernism. One could turn also to “‘The Renaissance of 1910’: Reflections on Guy Davenport’s Poetics” (2006) or “Hugh Kenner and the Invention of Modernism” (2005) for brief historical analyses conducted via these two influential critics. “The Pursuit of Number: Yeats, Khlebnikov, and the Mathematics of the Modern” contained in Poetic License (1990) and “Playing the Numbers: The French Reception of Louis Zukofsky” (2006) touch on mathematics as a syntactical tool in early modernism.

As the title of Perloff’s 1994 book Radical Artifice: Writing Poetry in the Age of Media would suggest, many of these takes on early modernism/avant-garde movements are shaped by considerations of technology, a field that rapidly expanded through the twentieth century. Citation, appropriation, assemblage, and other practices are all at least partially indebted to a Benjaminian sense of art and culture being shaped by its media environment. Radical Artifice, The Futurist Moment, and Unoriginal Genius are the exemplary books on this thematic front. As we shall see, Perloff’s investigations of Beckett, Language writing, and Conceptual poetics all involve technology as a formative artistic/literary device; within the purview of early modernism, such an idea might best be apprehended first via Marcel Duchamp.

For Perloff, Duchamp stands as one of the most important figures in twentieth-century art and literature. His mutinous innovations and deceptively playful spirit are both of great importance to Perloff; “Duchamp’s conceptualism is best understood, not as the negation of ‘art’ as such, but as the drive to render unto art the things that are art — which is to say, the realm of the mind as well as the eye, the realm of ideas and intellect as well as visual image,” she writes in “The Conceptual Poetics of Marcel Duchamp” (2002) — perhaps the best introduction to her writing on him (83). The aforementioned essay “The Search for ‘Prime Words’” on Pound and Duchamp also serves to connect their pioneering art to larger modernist currents. However, because Duchamp posed such a massive problem for the avant-garde artists that follow him, many of these essays focus instead on his relation to specific artists and movements. “A Duchamp Unto Myself: Writing Through Marcel” (1994), which appears in Perloff’s coedited collection of essays, John Cage: Composed in America, explores Cage’s difficult relationship with Duchamp and his work. “Dada Without Duchamp / Duchamp Without Dada: Avant-Garde Tradition and the Individual Talent” (1999) finds Perloff investigating Duchamp’s fraught history with the Dadaists in personal, aesthetic, and historical terms. “Avant Garde and Difference: Duchamp and the Russian Avant-Garde” (1991), “But isn’t the same at least the same?: Wittgenstein, Duchamp, and the Infra-Thin” (2001), and “Of Objects and Readymades: Gertrude Stein and Marcel Duchamp” (1996) bring Duchamp into conversation with a more international avant-garde that stretches across continental boundaries. Finally, “Duchamp’s Eliot: The Detours of Tradition and the Persistence of the Individual Talent” (2007), which appears in Canci and Harding’s T. S. Eliot and the Concept of Tradition, utilizes the modernist theme of individuality to link the artist and poet.

Like Pound and Duchamp, Eliot casts a broad shadow over both his fellow modernists and future generations of writers. “Avant-Garde Eliot” (2002) explores both the connections and aporias in Eliot’s relationship with his contemporaries; in the introduction to Unoriginal Genius, “The Wasteland” — along with Walter Benjamin’s Arcades Project — serves as a sort of guiding citational spirit for the other poets and literary works discussed therein. In hindsight, it represents a turn toward the machinic and manifesto-driven art that so distinguishes the early avant-garde.

Two other major literary figures of the early twentieth century play significant roles in Perloff’s work, and will serve as salient benchmarks in her engagement with later writers: Gertrude Stein and William Carlos Williams. Stein in particular seems a substantial touchpoint for Perloff; to be sure, Stein’s influence on the likes of John Cage, Language writing, and Conceptual poetry cannot be overlooked. One might turn to “‘A Fine New Kind of Realism’: Six Stein Styles in Search of a Reader” (1990) in Poetic License, “‘Grammar in Use’: Wittgenstein/Gertrude Stein/Marinetti” (1996) in Wittgenstein’s Ladder, “Poetry as Word-System: The Art of Gertrude Stein” (1979), “Abstraction and Unreadability” (2011), “The Difference is Spreading: Gertrude Stein” (2007), the aforementioned “Of Objects and Readymades: Gertrude Stein and Marcel Duchamp” (1996), “(Im)personating Gertrude Stein” (1988), and “Gertrude Stein’s Differential Syntax” (2002). William Carlos Williams also makes two notable appearances in Perloff’s books: “‘Lines Converging and Crossing’: The ‘French’ Decade of William Carlos Williams” (1981) in The Poetics of Indeterminacy and “‘To Give a Design’: Williams and the Visualization of Poetry” in Dance of the Intellect. “The Stain of Love and the Fallen Leaf: The Displacements of Desire in Williams’s Early Poetry” (1993) and “The Man Who Loved Women: The Medical Fictions of William Carlos Williams” (1980) both focus on specific styles within the broader scope of Williams’s influential work. Like Pound and Stein, he will make many cameos in Perloff’s future essays (“The Radical Poetics of Robert Creeley” [2007], to give one example).

One final figure of great importance to Perloff’s work — and who might represent an apt bridge between the early and mid-twentieth century — is Ludwig Wittgenstein. While Perloff’s engagement with specific philosophers is typically contingent upon the poets they inspired, Wittgenstein remains an exception. Indeed, Wittgenstein’s Ladder: Poetic Language and the Strangeness of the Ordinary (1996) examines the philosopher’s influence (conscious or otherwise) on a number of literary innovators, including Stein, Beckett, Cage, and Thomas Bernhard. Elsewhere, numerous essays further explore Wittgenstein’s work with language, and, more generally, his life and legacy. These essays include “But Isn’t the Same at Least the Same?: Wittgenstein and the Question of Poetic Translatability” (2004), “The Poetics of Description: Wittgenstein on the Aesthetic” (2003), “Writing Philosophy as Poetry: Wittgenstein’s Literary Syntax” (2009), “Toward a Wittgensteinian Poetics” (1992), and “From Theory to Grammar: Wittgenstein and the Aesthetic of the Ordinary” (1994), all of which explore the poetics in and about Wittgenstein’s writing and philosophy. A more jocular application of Wittgenstein can be found in the essay “Sex, Lies, and First Ladies: A Modest (Wittgensteinian) Proposal” (1998), which utilizes the philosopher as a means of reading of Bill Clinton’s 1998 testimony regarding his affair with Monica Lewinsky.

Modernism (mid-twentieth century)

As the twentieth century unfolded, its various movements sparkling and fading, its various developments dispersed or reified, America began to witness a slew of new poetic sensibilities, from the confessional and imagistic lyricism of Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath to the experimental projections of Black Mountain to the playful and exuberant New York School. Writers like Samuel Beckett sustained linguistic paradoxes raised by Wittgenstein and Duchamp; the Beats inherited a surrealism suffused with social consciousness. Perhaps most importantly (at least in the spectrum of Perloff’s writing), John Cage emerged as a powerful and inspiring force for musicians, artists, and writers. His work evolved Duchamp’s concerns, combining them with aspects of eastern philosophy, including chance operation, indeterminacy, and absence. It is through these movements that we might first glimpse something like postmodernism or Conceptualism — artists both fractured and networked, emphasizing context and content.

While many other contemporaneous movements (e.g. New York School, Black Mountain) are remembered as more communal affairs, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath today appear decidedly individualistic, even in the milieu of “confessional poetry.” This is not to suggest that they are isolated; they do, however, appear to carry on a certain legacy of modernism’s respect for the past and romanticism’s proclivity towards introspection. Indeed, one of Perloff’s earliest books is dedicated entirely to Lowell: The Poetic Art of Robert Lowell (1973), which contains both polemic and formal approaches to Lowell’s oeuvre. As a sort of bookend to her Lowell study, a review of his Collected Poems, entitled “The Return of Robert Lowell,” was published in 2004. The book and the review make for a good pairing, with the latter providing significant scholarly and personal reflection on over thirty years spent with Lowell’s writing. Contained within Poetic Art, “The Voice of the Poet: The Winslow Elegies of Robert Lowell” (1967) provides one such example of a specific reading akin to her work with individual Yeats poems. “Fearlessly Holding Back Nothing: Robert Lowell’s Last Poems” (1980) further addresses Lowell’s output, while “Poètes Maudits of the Genteel Tradition (Robert Lowell and John Berryman)” situates Lowell in a longer lineage of poetic practices. For more discussion of specific Lowell poems, see “A Critical Exchange on Selected Poems by Robert Lowell,” conducted between Perloff and David Wojahn and published in 2007.

Similar to her essays on Yeats and Lowell, most of Perloff’s writing on Sylvia Plath either provides a specific reading of one of Plath’s works, or situates her legacy in a broader historical/academic context. “Sylvia Plath’s ‘Sivvy’ Poems: A Portrait of the Poet as Daughter” (1979), “‘A Ritual for Being Born Twice’: Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar” (1972), “On the Road to Ariel: The Transitional Poetry of Sylvia Plath” (1973), and “On Sylvia Plath’s ‘Tulips’” (1975) are instances of the former; “The Two Ariels: The (Re)Making of the Sylvia Plath Canon” (1984) and “Extremist Poetry: Some Versions of the Sylvia Plath Myth” (1973), the latter. “Angst and Animism in the Poetry of Sylvia Plath” (1970) stands as an exception to these two categories, providing a wider thematic vantage point on Plath’s poetics.

Around the time that poets like Lowell, Plath, and Berryman were writing some of their most well known works, a more directly community-driven group of poets was springing up in North Carolina, centered at the experimental arts school Black Mountain College. Its faculty boasted some of the most progressive artists and writers of its time, including John Cage, Buckminster Fuller, Charles Olson, Robert Creeley, Robert Rauschenberg, Merce Cunningham, and Aaron Siskind. Of the poets operating out of BMC (excluding Cage), Perloff has focused most on Creeley and Olson. The latter of these two poets serves as the subject of a relatively early essay, “Charles Olson and the ‘Inferior Predecessors’: Projective Verse Revisited” (1973). Meanwhile, two more recent essays on Creeley, “The Radical Poetics of Robert Creeley” (2007) and “Robert Creeley Out of School: The Making of a Singular Poetics” (2010), provide more holistic readings of Creeley’s writing career. “Robert Creeley’s Windows (2002) and “Four Times Five: Robert Creeley’s The Island” (1978) focus on specific books.

However, Perloff’s favorite subjects of the mid-twentieth century are by no means confined to America. Samuel Beckett remains a writer of great importance to Perloff’s historical-aesthetic narrative of the avant-garde’s development; his deep language games and exophonic subtleties — “his way of not-saying and yet saying” — at once destabilized the boundaries of prose and poetry while evoking poets, philosophers, and satirists of the past (“In Love With Hiding: Samuel Beckett’s War,” 27). “Witt-Watt: The Language of Resistance/The Resistance of Language” (1996), contained in Wittgenstein’s Ladder, explores the philosopher’s influence on Beckett’s work — and in particular — his novel Watt. Perloff has written several notable essays — “Between Verse and Prose: Beckett and the New Poetry” (1982), “Beckett the Poet” (2010), and “Between the Shingle and the Dune: The Poetry of Samuel Beckett” (1978) — on Beckett’s poetics, disputing in part its frequent relegation to the realm of “fiction” or “drama.” This argument has subsequently produced some of Perloff’s rare essays on music, “The Beckett/Feldman Radio Collaboration: Words and Music as Hörspiel” (2003) and “The Silence that Is Not Silence: Acoustic Art in Beckett’s Embers (1999) being key examples. “Beckett in the Country of the Houyhnhnms: The Inward Turn of Swiftian Satire” (2008) relates Beckett to one of his Irish forebears, while “Light Silence: Dark Speech: Reading Johns’s Images, Seeing Beckett’s Language in Foirades/Fizzles” (2002) scrutinizes connections between Beckett’s writing and the Abstract Expressionist paintings of Jasper Johns.

New York School

While these varied strains of avant-garde practices were occurring in the 1940s and ’50s, another wholly distinct movement, comprised of poets, artists, and dancers, was coalescing in New York. Poets like Frank O’Hara, John Ashbery, Kenneth Koch, and Barbara Guest began working with a new poetic vernacular infused with the bustling images of New York and privileging spontaneity over careful construction. Of the poets involved with the New York School, Frank O’Hara has undoubtedly earned the majority of Perloff’s attention; her early book Frank O’Hara: Poet Among Painters (1977, reprint 1998) brings together several essays that — as we have seen in dozens of other examples — place O’Hara in the context of his New York milieu, a city rife with ambitious experimental visual artists, while examining the evolution of his writing chronologically. The book contains most of her major essays on O’Hara, though a few others are worth mentioning here: “Alterable Noons: The poèmes élastiques of Blaise Cendrars and Frank O’Hara” (1988) and “‘The Ecstasy of Always Bursting Forth!’: Rereading Frank O’Hara” (2008) provide post-Painters readings of O’Hara’s work, the former in relation to the Swiss-Franco modernist. “Watchman, Spy, and Dead Man: Johns, O’Hara, Cage and the ‘Aesthetic of Indifference’” (2001) and “‘Transparent Selves’: The Poetry of John Ashbery and Frank O’Hara” (1978) also serve to further contextualize O’Hara amongst figures in his social circle. Within the purview of that scene, one might also turn to Perloff’s essays on John Ashbery: “Normalizing John Ashbery” (2001) and a review, “Still Time for Surprises: John Ashbery’s Recent Books” (2001), approach the famous American poet’s work across a career that has spanned far more time than O’Hara’s.

Though mostly peripheral to the New York School, the Beat movement is perhaps still more well known today. Perloff’s oeuvre is largely devoid of writing on that movement, with the exception of Allen Ginsberg. For Perloff, “Howl” stands as a tremendously important poem of its time, with “America” playing a more comic counterpart. The aforementioned “A Step Away from Them” provides a glimpse into the social conflicts surrounding these poems, while “‘A Lost Batallion of Platonic Conversationalists’: ‘Howl’ and the Language of Modernism” focuses on Ginsberg’s hugely popular book. “A Lion in Our Living Room: On Allen Ginsberg’s Collected Poems” (1985) takes a more expansive approach to Ginsberg’s work. An interview with Kurt Kline, entitled “Who’s Wearing the Pants? Marjorie Perloff on Ginsberg and the Beats,” was published in 1994.

John Cage

John Cage endures as a crucial figure to any reading of Perloff’s criticism. His musical, artistic, and literary innovations seem an apt point of convergence between Perloff’s interest in earlier modernists like Duchamp and Wittgenstein and contemporary poets like Kenneth Goldsmith and David Antin. Like several other writers/artists mentioned in this essay, it would be difficult to catalog every instance of Cage in Perloff’s writing; instead, I will provide those sources most apposite and/or readily available to an uninitiated reader.

Perloff and Charles Junkerman coedited a collection of essays on Cage, subtitled Composed in America (1994) [1], and collaborated on its introduction. While Perloff’s only other piece is the aforementioned “A Duchamp Unto Myself,” the book brings together a host of essays on Cage’s various projects. The Poetics of Indeterminacy: Rimbaud to Cage (1981) utilizes Cage as a sort of apotheosis of certain trends in modernism; across eight essays Perloff implies a lineage of indeterminate approaches to the production of content and new techniques, ending with “‘No More Margins’: John Cage, David Antin, and the Poetry of Performance” (1981), an affirmation of the performative potential of such practices; in this vein, one might turn to “John Cage’s Living Theater” (2006). “Cage: Chance: Change” (1994), which appears in Radical Artifice, and “Music for Words Perhaps: Reading/Hearing/Seeing John Cage’s Roaratorio” (1987) both read particular Cage works through the wider scope of his nuanced practice(s). “The Music of Verbal Space: John Cage’s ‘What you Say’” (1997) further highlights the overlapping qualities of Cage’s musical and textual works, while “‘Unimpededness and Interpenetration’: The Poetic of John Cage” (1982) more specifically explores his poetic sensibilities. Finally, “The Portrait of the Artist as Collage Text: Pound’s Gaudier-Brzeska and the ‘Italic’ Texts of John Cage” (1982) makes a move similar to her essay on Beckett’s Yeats influence; here, older sources of experimentation — in this case, Pound — are unexpectedly brought into conversation with a contemporary mode of creation.

Postmodernism (late twentieth century/early twenty-first century)

Having rounded out the mid-twentieth century with Cage, whose work continues to serve as a touchstone for many artists that have followed, and who — to be sure — continued working until his death in the 1990s, we shall proceed into the murkier waters of “postmodernism,” a term whose deceptive singularity belies a vast number of styles, practices, and polemics, many of which are often in contradiction with one another. The mere title of Perloff’s Postmodern Genres suggests this multiplicity, but her criticism goes further, arguing that the “tired dichotomies” of modernism and postmodernism obscure the more subtle shifts and developments of experimentation and avant-garde styles (21st-Century Modernism, 1). To quote further: “what interests me is the unfulfilled promise of the modernist (as of the classical) poetic impulse in so much of what passes for poetry today — a poetry singularly unambitious in its attitude to the materiality of the text, to what Khlebnikov described as the recognition that ‘the roots of words are only phantoms behind which stand the strings of the alphabet.’ It is this particular legacy of early modernism that the new poetics has sought to recover” (21st-Century Modernism, 5). For her, the poets who seem to best affirm this are largely writers operating in the Language movement of the ’70s and ’80s, and the digital/conceptual poets who followed them in the ’90s on into the twenty-first century. Among the books, Differentials: Poetry, Poetics, Pedagogy (2004), Unoriginal Genius (2010), Poetic License (1990), and the aforementioned 21st-Century Modernism are best suited for a reading of Perloff’s take on late-twentieth/early-twenty-first-century literature and art. Postmodern Genres, while also an important reference point, mostly consists of essays by other critics, academics, and poets. Pertinent essays on the postmodern/new poetics conundrum include “Postmodernism / Fin de Siecle” (2004), “Contemporary / Postmodern: The ‘New’ Poetry?” (1980), “From Action to Image: The Return of Story in Postmodern Poetry” (1982), and “Postmodernism and the Impasse of Lyric” (1984).

Language writing

In the 1970s, a heterogeneous group of American and British poets began to coagulate through various small press/DIY publications, most notably Bruce Andrews and Charles Bernstein’s L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E magazine. Though the Language writers — as they came to be known — did not maintain a unified aesthetic/style, they were all invested in the materiality of language and the political implications such a stance implied. Though they were ignored in mainstream academia for some time, Perloff was an early champion of these writers, celebrating their inventiveness and their abiding knowledge of the literary/art history already discussed in this essay. “The Word as Such: L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E Poetry in the Eighties” (1985), “New Nouns for Old: Language Poetry, Language Game, and the Pleasure of the Text” (1987), and “Avant Garde Tradition and the Individual Talent: The Case of Language Poetry” (2006) all provide overarching takes on the movement and encompass numerous readings of writers important to the movement, including Charles Bernstein, Lyn Hejinian, Ron Silliman, Susan Howe, Tina Darragh, Bruce Andrews, and many others. As further evidence of her support for the Language writers, Perloff’s bibliography is speckled with reviews of individual writers. One might turn to her ‘cases’: “Teaching the ‘New’ Poetries: The Case of Rae Armantrout” (2002) or “The Portrait of the Language Poet as Autobiographer: The Case of Ron Silliman” (1998). Unoriginal Genius contains essays on two Language writers, “Writing through Walter Benjamin: Charles Bernstein’s ‘Poem Including History’” (2010) and “‘The Rattle of Statistical Traffic’: Documentary and Found Text in Susan Howe’s The Midnight (2010). Both of these writers are major figures for Perloff — Bernstein is frequently cited throughout her work, both for his poetic and critical ideas; Howe is also the subject of “‘Collision or Collusion with History’: The Narrative Lyric of Susan Howe” (1989) and — in part — “Language Poetry and the Lyric Subject: Susan Howe’s Buffalo, Ron Silliman’s Albany” (1999). Other writer-specific works include “Inner Tension/In Attention: Steve McCaffery’s Book Art” (1992), “Happy World: What Lyn Hejinian’s Poetry Tells Us about Chance, Fortune, and Pleasure” (2000), “Triplespace (on Hank Lazer’s Poetry)” (1998), “Sentence Not Sentence” (1996), and “A Syntax of Contrariety (on Bruce Andrews)” (1997).

Conceptual/digital poetics

In the late 1990s, a number of younger writers expanded on the developments of the Language writers and began to explore the possibilities of literature in the context of digital technologies and the Internet. While several of these writers, including Kenneth Goldsmith, Craig Dworkin, Vanessa Place, and Rob Fitterman would group together under the banner of Conceptual poetry (or Conceptual writing), other writers and artists functioned more autonomously. For Perloff, however, they are united by the same virtues that distinguish avant-gardists of the past — they create a literature that is at once well aware of its historical/cultural milieu, but utilize that environment to transcend, complicate, and/or question it.

Unoriginal Genius represents the most definitive statement on Conceptual/digital poetics Perloff has yet produced (the afterword, in particular), though several essays, including “After Language Poetry: Innovation and Its Theoretical Discontents” (1999), “Conceptualisms, Old and New” (2007), and “Screening the Page/Paging the Screen: Digital Poetics and the Differential Text” (2006), serve as apt readings of these contemporary movements and trends. Furthermore, Jacket2 has published her essay “Towards a Conceptual Lyric: From Content to Context” (2011), an analysis of Kenneth Goldsmith’s 2011 performance at the White House, and perhaps her most polemic essay on Conceptual writing to date. Perloff has also discussed Goldsmith’s work in “Conceptual Bridges/Digital Tunnels: Kenneth Goldsmith’s Traffic (2010) and “‘Moving Information’: On Kenneth Goldsmith’s The Weather (2005). An interview, “Conversation with Kenneth Goldsmith” (2002), was published in Jacket 21. With Craig Dworkin, she coedited The Sound of Poetry/The Poetry of Sound (2009) [2], a collection of essays — several of them by writers included in this essay — on the ways in which sound creates and interacts with various poetic fields. 

Caroline Bergvall and Yoko Tawada have also served as contemporary subjects of Perloff’s writing. Both appear in “Language in Migration: Multilingualism and Exophonic Writing in the New Poetics” (2010), which provides readings of Tawada’s Sprachpolizei und Spielpolygotte (2007) [3] and Bergvall’s “Say ‘Parsley’” (2005) [4] through the lens of Pound and Eliot’s multilingual work. Aside from the foreword to Yoko Tawada: Voices from Everywhere, Perloff has translated the Japanese-German poet’s aforementioned work as “Speech Police and Polyglot Play” (2006). Bergvall and the Canadian Conceptual poet Christian Bök are the subject of “The Oulipo Factor: The Procedural Poetics of Caroline Bergvall and Christian Bök” (2004); an interview with Bergvall, entitled “ex/Crème/ental/eaT/ing,” was published in 2002.

Perloff has also written on many other contemporary writers who might not fall within the strict purview of Conceptual, Language, or digital poetics, “Filling the Space with Trace: Tom Raworth’s ‘Letters from Yaddo’” (2003) and “Rosmarie Waldrop’s Auto-graphs” (2002) being prime examples. She has also written more broadly about the conditions of contemporary writing in the essays “Writing Poetry after 9/11” (2002), “Introduction: Young American Poets” (1998), and “Whose New American Poetry? Anthologizing in the Nineties” (1996). In “In Search of the Authentic Order: The Poetry of Yasusada” (1997), she investigates Kent Johnson's infamous hoax and its broader implications within contemporary literary culture.

On pedagogy and poetics

Having analyzed Perloff’s writing via a historical narrative, it is now appropriate to turn to the writing that has earned her both the accolades and ire of academics and poets — namely, her writing on the practice(s) of pedagogy and poetry criticism. Indeed, these essays often find Perloff at her fiercest, assailing — as one essay would have it — “Some Aporias of Recent Criticism” (“Contextualizing Contemporary Lyric,” 1991). Her targets are those critics, anthologies, and artists who neglect the alternative histories of experimental/avant-garde literature in favor of a perceived “diversity”; in “Postmodernism/Fin de Siècle: Defining ‘Difference’ in Late Twentieth-Century Poetics” (1998), she quotes Charles Bernstein, who asserts that diversity “‘presupposes a common standard of aesthetic judgment or implicitly aims to erect a new common standard. In this context, diversity can be a way of restoring a highly idealized concept of a unified American culture that effectively quiets dissent” (Poetry On and Off the Page, 21). It is against this idealization that Perloff’s criticism functions.

The titles of these essays alone often bespeak the problems at hand: whether critiquing the integration of cultural studies and literature in “In Defense of Poetry: Put the Literature Back into Literary Studies” (2000) or illuminating the deficiencies of various publications in “What We Don’t Talk about when We Talk about Poetry: Some Aporias of Literary Journalism” (1998). While Poetry On and Off the Page: Essays for Emergent Occasions (1998) might represent the definitive source for such polemics, essays abound elsewhere, including the seminal “Ca(n)non to the Right of Us, Ca(n)non to the Left of Us: A Plea for Difference” (1987), “Crisis in the Humanities?: Reconfiguring Literary Study for the Twenty-First Century” (2004), “Tolerance and Taboo: Modernist Primitivisms and Postmodernist Pieties” (1998), and “‘Living in the Same Place’: The Old Mono-Nationalism and the New Comparative Literature” (1995) being just a few examples. Perloff has also criticized certain manifestations of feminism in literary studies; as she writes in “Canon and the Loaded Gun: Feminist Poetics and the Avant-Garde” (1990) — an important essay on this front — “we must beware of proclamations that herald the New Dispensation” (34). Elsewhere, “The Corn-Porn Lyric: Poetry 1972–73” attacks similar notions of feminine/feminist poetics in the 1970s.

Conclusion

In writing on Wittgenstein in the prologue to her Vienna Paradox, Perloff asks, “Is it a case of continuity or reaction?” (13). As was mentioned at the opening of this essay, Perloff’s oeuvre constitutes not so much a holistic unit of texts as a sort of nuanced evolution that in some ways resembles the experimental/avant literary history she has sought to explicate and defend. Coupling precise technical reading abilities with stimulating challenges to various literary and academic institutions, her writing presents the curious reader with a host of engaging dilemmas. She is already a figure of great influence in literary criticism and contemporary literature itself; one awaits not only the future of Perloff’s complex body of work, but also how it might shape the poetry of the future.

To end with another quote from Vienna Paradox, this time from the preface, that might double as a sort of mission statement: “As a professor of literature, I long for a word where people actually care about the artistic and intellectual life, a world where art and poetry might be regarded as more than Sunday ‘enrichment’ but, on the contrary, central to life itself. At the same time, I am aware of the price High Culture exacts and the dangers of nonengagement in the actual public life of one’s nation” (xv).

 


 

1. John Cage: Composed in America, ed. Marjorie Perloff and Charles Junkerman (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994).

2. The Sound of Poetry/The Poetry of Sound, ed. Marjorie Perloff and Craig Dworkin (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009).

3. Caroline Bergvall, “Say ‘Parsley,’” in Fig (London: Salt Publishing, 2005).

4. Yoko Tawada, Sprachpolizei und Spielpolygotte (Konkursbuchverlag, 2011).

 

Marjorie Perloff Bibliography

21st-Century Modernism: The “New” Poetics (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2002).

“‘A duchamp unto my self’: ‘Writing through’ Marcel,” in John Cage: Composed in America, ed. Marjorie Perloff and Charles Junkerman (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994).

“‘A Fine New Kind of Realism’: Six Stein Styles in Search of a Reader,” in Poetic License: Essays on Modernist and Postmodernist Lyric (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1990), 145–160.

“A Lion in Our Living Room: On Allen Ginsberg’s Collected Poems,” in Poetic License: Essays on Modernist and Postmodernist Lyric, 199–230.

“‘A Lost Batallion of Platonic Conversationalists’: ‘Howl’ and the Language of Modernism,” in The Poem that Changed America: ‘Howl’ Fifty Years Later, ed. Jason Shinder (New York: Farrar Straus, 2006), 24–43.

“‘A Ritual for Being Born Twice’: Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar,” Contemporary Literature 13 (Autumn 1972): 507–22.

“‘A Small Perliplus Along an Edge’: Rosmarie Waldrop’s Auto-graphs,” HOW 2 (2002).

“A Step Away from Them: Poetry in 1956,” in Poetry On and Off the Page: Essays for Emergent Occasions (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1998), 83–115.

“A Syntax of Contrariety (on Bruce Andrews),” Aerial 9 (1997): 234–38.

“Abstraction and Unreadability,” Vlak 2 (2011): 156–62.

“After Language Poetry: Innovation and Its Theoretical Discontents,” in Contemporary Poetics, ed. Louis Armand (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 2007), 15–38.

“Alterable Noons: The poèmes élastiques of Blaise Cendrars and Frank O’Hara,” in Yearbook of English Studies 15: Anglo-French Literary Relations, ed. C. J. Rawson and Jenny Mezciems (1985), 16–78.

“‘An Image from a Past Life’: Beckett’s Yeatsian Turn,” Fulcrum 6 (2007): 604–615.

“Angst and Animism in the Poetry of Sylvia Plath,” in Collected Essays on Sylvia Plath, ed. Linda Wagner (Boston: G. K. Hall, 1984), 109–23.

“‘Another Emblem There’: Theme and Convention in Yeats’s ‘Coole Park and Ballylee, 1931’,” The Journal of English and Germanic Philology 69, no. 2 (April 1970): 223–40.

“The Aura of Modernism,” Modernist Cultures 1, no. 1 (April 2005): 1–14.

“The Autobiographical Mode of Goethe: Dichtung und Wahrheit and the Lyric Poems,” Comparative Literature Studies 7, no. 3 (September 1970): 265–96.

“Avant Garde and Difference: Duchamp and the Russian Avant-Garde,” New American Writing (Spring 1991): 81–96.

“Avant Garde Eliot,” in 21st-Century Modernism: The “New” Poetics.

“Avant Garde Tradition and the Individual Talent: The Case of Language Poetry,” Foreign Literature Studies 28, no. 4 (August 2006): 20–37.

“Beckett in the Country of the Houyhnhnms: The Inward Turn of Swiftian Satire,” in Swift’s Travels: Eighteenth-Century British Satire and Its Legacy, ed. Nicholas Hudson and Aaron Santesso (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 280–99.

“Beckett the Poet,” in A Companion to Samuel Beckett, ed. S. E. Gontarski (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010).

“Between the Shingle and the Dune: The Poetry of Samuel Beckett,” Parnassus: Poetry in Review 6 (Fall/Winter 1978): 170–84.

“Between Verse and Prose: Beckett and the New Poetry,” in The Dance of the Intellect: Studies in the Poetry of the Pound Tradition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), 135–154.

“But isn’t the same at least the same? Wittgenstein, Duchamp, and the Infra-Thin,” in The Literary Wittgenstein, ed, John Gibson and Wolfgang Huemer (London: Routledge, 2004), 34–54.

“Cage: Chance: Change,” in Radical Artifice: Writing Poetry in the Age of Media (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994). 

“Canon and the Loaded Gun: Feminist Poetics and the Avant-Garde,” in Poetic License: Essays on Modernist and Postmodernist Lyric, 31–52.

“Ca(n)non to the Right of Us, Ca(n)non to the Left of Us: A Plea for Difference,” in Poetic License: Essays on Modernist and Postmodernist Lyric, 7–30.

“The Challenge of the German Lyric: Goethe and Heine in Translation,” American Poetry Review 12, no. 5 (September-October 1983): 10–17.

“Charles Olson and the ‘Inferior Predecessors’: Projective Verse Revisited,” English Literary History 40 (Summer 1973): 285–306.

“Collage and Poetry,” in Encyclopedia of Aesthetics, ed. Michael Kelly (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998).

“‘Collision or Collusion with History’: The Narrative Lyric of Susan Howe,” in Poetic License: Essays on Modernist and Postmodernist Lyric, 297–310.

“The Conceptual Poetics of Marcel Duchamp,” in 21st-Century Modernism: The “New” Poetics, 77–120.

“Conceptual Bridges, Digital Tunnels: Kenneth Godlsmith’s Traffic,” in Unoriginal Genius: Poetry by Other Means in the New Century (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010), 146–166.

“Conceptualisms, Old and New,” in Parkett 78 (2008).

“The Contemporary of our Grandchildren: Pound’s Influence,” in Poetic License: Essays on Modernist and Postmodernist Lyric, 119–144.

“Contemporary/Postmodern: The ‘New’ Poetry?,” in Romanticism, Modernism, Postmodernism, ed. Harry T. Garvin (Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press, 1980), 171–180.

“Contextualizing Contemporary Lyric: Some Aporias of Recent Criticism,” Review 13 (1991): 203–24.

“Conversation with Kenneth Goldsmith,” Jacket 21 (February 2003).

“The Corn-Porn Lyric: Poetry 1972–73,” Contemporary Literature 16 (Winter 1975): 85–125.

“Crisis in the Humanities?: Reconfiguring Literary Study for the Twenty-First Century,” in Differentials: Poetry, Poetics, Pedagogy (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2004), 1–19.

“A Critical Exchange on Selected Poems by Robert Lowell,” with David Wojahn, New Ohio Review 1 (Spring 2007): 216–25.

“Cubist Collaboration/Abstract Assemblage: The Avant-Garde Artist’s Book,” 2008.

“Dada without Duchamp/Duchamp without Dada: Avant-Garde Tradition and the Individual Talent,” Stanford Humanities Review 7, no. 1 (1999): 48–78.

The Dance of the Intellect: Studies in the Poetry of the Pound Tradition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985).

“The Difference Is Spreading: Gertrude Stein,” Poets.org (January 2007).

Differentials: Poetry, Poetics, Pedagogy (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2004).

“Duchamp’s Eliot: The Detours of Tradition and the Persistence of the Individual Talent,” in T. S. Eliot and the Concept of Tradition, ed. Giovanni Cianci and Jason Harding (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007).

“‘Easter, 1916’: Yeats’s First World War Poem,” in The Oxford Handbook of British and Irish War Poetry, ed. Tim Kendall (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), 227–44.

“‘The Ecstasy of Always Bursting Forth!’: Rereading Frank O’Hara,” Lana Turner 1 (Fall 2008), 194–206.

“Eliot and the Avant-Garde,” in T. S. Eliot in Context, ed. Jason Harding (Cambridge: University of Cambridge Press, 2011), 252–61.

“Epilogue, Modernism Now,” in A Companion to Modernist Literature and Culture, ed. David Bradshaw and Kevin Dettmar (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2006), 571–578.

“ex/Crème/ental/eaT/ing: An Interview with Caroline Bergvall,” Revue d’etudes Anglophones 12 (2002): 123–38.

“Extremist Poetry: Some Versions of the Sylvia Plath Myth,” Journal of Modern Literature 2 (1973): 581–88.

“The Fascination of What’s Difficult: Emily Dickinson and the Theory Canon,” Stand 1, no. 3 (June 2000): 33–51.

“‘Fearlessly Holding Back Nothing’: Robert Lowell’s Last Poems,” in The Critical Response to Robert Lowell, ed. Steven Gould Alexrod (Westport: Greenwood Press, 1999).

“Filling the Space with Trace: Tom Raworth’s ‘Letters from Yaddo’,” The Gig 13-14 (May 2003): 130–44.

“The First Futurist Manifesto Revisited,” Rett Kopi: Manifesto Issue: Dokumenterer Fremtiden (2007): 152–56.

“Foreword,” in Yoko Tawada: Voices from Everywhere, ed. Douglas Slaymaker (New York: Lexington Books, 2007).

“Four Times Five: Robert Creeley’s The Island,” boundary 2 6, no. 3 (Spring/Fall 1978): 491–507.

Frank O’Hara: Poet Among Painters (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1977).

“From Action to Image: The Return of Story in Postmodern Poetry,” in The Dance of the Intellect: Studies in the Poetry of the Pound Tradition, 155–172.

“From Theory to Grammar: Wittgenstein and the Aesthetic of the Ordinary,” New Literary History 25, no. 4 (Autumn 1994): 899–923.

The Futurist Moment: Avant-Garde, Avant-Guerre, and the Language of Rupture (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003).

“German by the Grace of Goethe,” in The Vienna Paradox: A Memoir (New York: New Directions Press, 2003), 73–120.

“Gertrude Stein’s Differential Syntax,” The Sarah Tryphena Phillips Lecture, Proceedings of the British Academy 117 (2002): 401–27.

“‘Grammar in Use’: Wittgenstein/Gertrude Stein/Marinetti,” in Wittgenstein’s Ladder: Poetic Language and the Strangeness of the Ordinary (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996), 83–114.

“Happy World: What Lyn Hejinian’s Poetry Tells Us about Chance, Fortune, and Pleasure,” Boston Review (February/March 2000).

“How to Read a Poem: W. B. Yeats’s ‘After Long Silence,’” 2007.

“Hugh Kenner and the Invention of Modernism,” Modernism/Modernity 12, no. 3 (September 2005): 465–470.

“(Im)personating Gertrude Stein,” in Gertrude Stein and the Making of Literature, ed. Shirley Neuman and Ira B. Nadel (Evanston: Macmillan and Northeastern University Press, 1988), 61–81.

“In Defense of Poetry: Put the literature Back into Literary Studies,” Boston Review 24, no. 6 (December–January 1999–2000): 22–26.

“Inner Tension/In Attention: Steve McCaffery’s Book Art,” in Poetry On and Off the Page: Essays for Emergent Occasions, 264–289.

“Introduction: Young American Poets,” Yang 182 (Summer 1998): 183–85.

“The Invention of Collage,” in The Futurist Moment: Avant-Garde, Avant-Guerre, and the Language of Rupture, 42–79. Originally published in 1983.

“In Search of the Authentic Order: The Poetry of Araki Yasusada,” Boston Review 22, no. 2 (April–May 1997): 26–33.

“John Cage’s Living Theater,” in Against Theatre: Creative Destruction on the Modernist Stage, ed. Martin Puchner and Alan Ackerman (New York: Palgrave, 2006), 133–48.

“Language in Migration: Multilingualism and Exophonic Writing in the New Poetics,” in Unoriginal Genius: Poetry by Other Means in the New Century, 123–145.

“Language Poetry and the Lyric Subject: Susan Howe’s Buffalo, Ron Silliman’s Albany,” Critical Inquiry 25 (Spring 1999): 405–434.

“Light Silence: Dark Speech: Reading Johns’s Images, Seeing Beckett’s Language in Foirades/Fizzles,” Fulcrum 1 (2002): 83–105.

“‘Lines Converging and Crossing’: The ‘French’ Decade of William Carlos Williams,” in The Poetics of Indeterminacy: Rimbaud to Cage (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1981), 109–154.

“‘Living in the Same Place’: The Old Mono-Nationalism and the New Comparative Literature,” World Literature Today 69, no. 2 (Spring 1995): 249–255.

“Lucent and Inescapable Rhythms: Metrical ‘Choice’ and Historical Formation,” in Poetry On and Off the Page: Essays for Emergent Occasions, 116–40.

“The Man Who Loved Women: The Medical Fictions of William Carlos Williams,” in William Carlos Williams: A Study of the Short Fiction, ed. Robert Gish (Boston: Twayne, 1989).

“‘Moving Information’: On Kenneth Goldsmith’s The Weather,” Open Letter 7 (Fall 2005): 85–95.

“Music for Words Perhaps: Reading/Hearing/Seeing John Cage’s Roaratorio,” Genre 22, nos. 3–4 (Autumn/Winter 1987): 195–230.

“The Music of Verbal Space: John Cage’s ‘What You Say,’” in Poetry On and Off the Page: Essays for Emergent Occasions, 290–308.

“New Nouns for Old: Language Poetry, Language Game, and the Pleasure of the Text,” in Exploring Postmodernism, ed. Matei Calinescu and R. Fokkema (Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 1987), 95–108.

“‘No More Margins’: John Cage, David Antin, and the Poetry of Performance,” in The Poetics of Indeterminacy: Rimbaud to Cage, 288–340.

“Normalizing John Ashbery,” Electronic Poetry Center (1997).

“Of Objects and Readymades: Gertrude Stein and Marcel Duchamp,” Forum of Modern Language Studies 32, no. 2 (1996): 137–54.

“On Sylvia Plath’s ‘Tulips,’” Paunch 42–43 (December 1975): 105–110.

“On the Road to Ariel: The Transitional Poetry of Sylvia Plath,” Iowa Review 4 (Spring 1973): 94–110.

“The Oulipo Factor: The Procedural Poetics of Caroline Bergvall and Christian Bök,” in Differentials: Poetry, Poetics, Pedagogy, 205–226.

“Playing the Numbers: The French Reception of Louis Zukofsky,” Verse 22–23 (2006): 102–20.

“Poètes Maudits of the Genteel Tradition,” in Robert Lowell: Essays on the Poetry (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), 99–116.

The Poetic Art of Robert Lowell (New York: Cornell Press, 1973).

“The Poetics of Description: Wittgenstein on the Aesthetic,” in Ordinary Language Criticism: Literary Thinking After Cavell After Wittgenstein, ed. Kenneth Dauber and Walter Jost (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 2003), 231–44.

Poetic License: Essays on Modernist and Postmodernist Lyric (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1990).

The Poetics of Indeterminacy: Rimbaud to Cage (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1981).

“Poetry as Word-System: The Art of Gertrude Stein,” in The Poetics of Indeterminacy: Rimbaud to Cage, 67–108.

Poetry On and Off the Page: Essays for Emergent Occasions (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1998).

“The Portrait of the Artist as Collage Text: Pound’s Gaudier-Brzeska and the ‘Italic’ Texts of John Cage,” in The Dance of the Intellect: Studies in the Poetry of the Pound Tradition, 33–73.

“The Portrait of the Language Poet as Autobiographer: The Case of Ron Silliman,” Qarry West 34, Ron Silliman Issue (1998): 167–81.

Postmodern Genres, ed. Marjorie Perloff (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1989). 

“Postmodernism and the Impasse of lyric,” in The Dance of the Intellect: Studies in the Poetry of the Pound Tradition, 172–200.

“Postmodernism/Fin de Siecle,” in Poetry On and Off the Page: Essays for Emergent Occasions, 3–33.

“Pound and Rimbaud: The Retreat from Symbolism,” Iowa Review 6 (Winter 1975): 91–118.

“Pound/Stevens: Whose Era?” in The Dance of the Intellect: Studies in the Poetry of the Pound Tradition, 1–32.

“The Pursuit of Number: Yeats, Khlebnikov, and the Mathematics of the Modern,” in Poetic License: Essays on Modernist and Postmodernist Lyric, 71–98.

Radical Artifice: Writing Poetry in the Age of Media (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994).

“The Radical Poetics of Robert Creeley,” Electronic Book Review 10 (2007).

“‘The Rattle of Statistical Traffic’: Documentary and Found Text in Susan Howe’s The Midnight,” in Unoriginal Genius: Poetry by Other Means in the New Century, 99–122.

“‘The Renaissance of 1910’: Reflections on Guy Davenport’s Poetics,” Fulcrum 4 (2006): 167–173.

“The Return of Robert Lowell,” Parnassus 27, nos. 1 and 2 (Winter 2004): 76–102.

Rhyme and Meaning in the Poetry of Yeats (Paris: Mouton), 1970.

“Robert Creeley Out of School: The Making of a Singular Poetics,” in Form, Power, and Person in Robert Creeley’s Life and Work, ed. Stephen Fredman and Steve McCaffery (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2010), 19–35.

“Robert Creeley’s Windows,” Bridge 2, no. 1 (Fall–Winter 2002): 187–94.

“Screening the Page/Paging the Screen: Digital Poetics and the Differential Text,” in New Media Poetics: Contexts, Technotexts, and Theories, ed. Adalaide Morris and Thomas Swiss (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2006), 143–64.

“The Search for ‘Prime Words’: Pound as Nominalist,” Paideuma 32, nos. 1–3 (2003): 205–28.

“Sentence Not Sentence,” Sulfur 39 (Fall 1996): 139–51.

“Sex, Lies, and First Ladies: A Modest (Wittgensteinian) Proposal,” Southwest Review 84, no. 1 (1998): 30–42.

“Speech Police and Polyglot Play,” trans. Perloff, Lyric 9 (2006): 55–63.

“Teaching the ‘New’ Poetries: The Case of Rae Armantrout,” Kiosk: A Joural of Poetry, Poetics, and Experimental Prose 1 (2002): 235–60.

“The Silence that Is Not Silence: Acoustic Art in Beckett’s Embers,” in Samuel Beckett and the Arts: Music, Visual Arts, and Non-Print Media, ed. Lois Oppenheim (New York: Garland, 1999), 247–68.

“The Stain of Love and the Fallen Leaf: The Displacements of Desire in Williams’s Early Poetry,” in The Love Poetry of William Carlos Williams, ed. Cristina Giorcelli and Maria Anita Stefanelli (Roma: Edizione Associate, 1993), 189–212.

“Still Time for Surprises: John Ashbery’s Recent Books,” Thumbscrew 18 (Spring 2001): 46–48.

“Sylvia Plath’s ‘Sivvy’ Poems: A Portrait of the Poet as Daughter,” in Sylvia Plath: A Collection of Essays, ed. Gary Lane (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1979), 155–78.

“Teaching Yeats’s Sound Structures,” in Yeats: An Annual of Critical and Textual Studies XIII, ed. Richard J. Finneran (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1995), 81–90.

“‘To Give a Design’: Williams and the Visualization of Poetry,” in The Dance of the Intellect: Studies in the Poetry of the Pound Tradition, 88–118.

“Tolerance and Taboo: Modernist Primitivisms and Postmodernist Pieties,” in Poetry On and Off the Page: Essays for Emergent Occasions, 34–50.

“Toward a Wittgensteinian Poetics,” Contemporary Literature 33, no. 2 (Summer 1992): 191–213.

“Towards a Conceptual Lyric: From Content to Context,” Jacket2 (2011).

“‘The Tradition of Myself’: The Autobiographical Mode of Yeats,” Journal of Modern Literature 4, no. 3 (February 1975): 529–73.

“‘Transparent Selves’: The Poetry of John Ashbery and Frank O’Hara,” Yearbook of English Studies 8, ed. C. J. Rawson and G. K. Hunter (1978), 171–96.

“Triplespace (on Hank Lazer’s Poetry),” Virginia Quarterly Review (Spring 1998): 381–90.

“The Two Ariels: The (Re)Making of the Sylvia Plath Canon,” in Poetic License: Essays on Modernist and Postmodernist Lyric, 175–198.

“‘Unimpededness and Interpenetration’: The Poetic of John Cage,” in A John Cage Reader, ed. Peter Gena and Johnathan Brent (New York: C. F. Peters Corp., 1982), 4–16.

Unoriginal Genius: Poetry by Other Means in the New Century (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010).

The Vienna Paradox: A Memoir (New York: New Directions Press, 2003).

“The Voice of the Poet: The Winslow Elegies of Robert Lowell,” in The Poetic Art of Robert Lowell (New York: Cornell Press, 1973), 131–163.

“Violence and Precision: The Manifesto as Artform,” in The Futurist Moment: Avant-Garde, Avant-Guerre, and the Language of Rupture, 80–115. Originally published in 1984.

“Watchman, Spy, and Dead Man: Johns, O’Hara, Cage, and the ‘Aesthetic of Indifference,’” Modernism/Modernity 8, no. 2 (2001): 197–223.

“What We Don’t Talk about When We Talk about Poetry: Some Aporias of Literary Journalism,” in Poetry On and Off the Page: Essays for Emergent Occasions, 168–192.

“Who’s Wearing the Pants? Marjorie Perloff on Ginsberg and the Beats,” interview with Kurt Kline, Poetry Flash 253 (June/July 1994): 1–2.

“Whose New American Poetry? Anthologizing in the Nineties,” Diacritics 26, nos. 3–4 (Fall-Winter 1996): 104–23.

“Why Futurism Now?,” Formations 4, no. 3 (Spring 1988): 1–19.

“Witt-Watt: The Language of Resistance/The Resistance of Language,” in Wittgenstein’s Ladder: Poetic Language and the Strangeness of the Ordinary, 115–144.

Wittgenstein’s Ladder: Poetic Language and the Strangeness of the Ordinary (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996).

“The Word as Such: L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E Poetry in the Eighties,” in The Dance of the Intellect: Studies in the Poetry of the Pound Tradition, 215–238.

“Writing Philosophy as Poetry: Wittgenstein’s Literary Syntax,” in Language and World Part Two: Signs, Minds, and Actions: Proceedings of the 32th International Ludwig Wittgenstein-Symposium in Kirchberg 2009 (Rutgers: Transaction Books, 2010), 279–96.

“Writing Poetry after 9/11,” American Letters and Commentary (2002): 18–23.

“Writing through Walter Benjamin: Charles Bernstein’s ‘Poem Including History,’” in Unoriginal Genius: Poetry by Other Means in the New Century, 76–98.

“Yeats and Goethe,” Comparative Literature Studies 23, no. 2 (Spring 1971): 125–140.

“Yeats and the Occasional Poem: ‘Easter, 1916,’” Papers on Language and Literature 4 (1968): 308–28.