Sean Pryor on ‘Ideal Poetry’

What happens when we speak about poetry, rather than poems? It has long been customary, in thinking and writing about poetry, to make claims on behalf of the art form in general which few if any individual poems can justify or substantiate. In this paper I want to consider this problem in relation to two recent but very different contributions to the theory of poetry, those of Alain Badiou and Ben Lerner, and to contemporary poems which themselves explicitly invoke the concept of poetry as such. I am interested especially in reflecting upon the political consequences of such abstractions and acts.

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