On Literary Metamodernism

On Literary Metamodernism
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July 2013 Contemporary Poetry Reviews

Each month, this contemporary poetry review series selects between five and ten collections published since 2003 to recommend to its readership. These collections are selected from a pool of more than two thousand books of supplied and already-held contemporary poetry. A full list of books reviewed and a partial list of titles held can be found here. Publishers interested in submitting review copies to the series should contact the author of this article using this form. All submitted books remain eligible for inclusion in the series for a ten-year period.

This month, the series reviews just one collection, using it as a springboard for discussion of metamodernistic poetry and poetics in the twenty-first century.

1. Liner Notes, Andy Mister (Station Hill of Barrytown, 2013).

It's not so often anymore that we read a book of poetry and think to ourselves, "This poet means exactly what they say." It's a startling realization, that we so often praise the artistry of a poem or collection for having accurately captured the artistic ambitions of the poet, but less commonly consider how and when contemporary poetry is nonfictional, a direct address from the bared poet within the poet.

In the aughts, Andy Mister was briefly a founding member of a verse movement termed The New Sincerity, though to note this is not to pigeon-hole the poet into what was, even at the time, only a loosely-defined and ephemeral phenomenon among some younger American authors. In fact, as The New Sincerity was an active agent in American music as early as the 1980s, it doesn't even do to associate it primarily with poetry, or with artists predominantly active in this rather than the preceding century. What's more important about Mister's prior affiliation with The New Sincerity is what it says about a longing, now common among contemporary poets, to achieve escape velocity from the self-conscious irony that marked literature at the tail end of last century, as well as the dry literary theory that has marked presumptive avant-garde poetries since the 1970s.

No less a literary light than the late David Foster Wallace once predicted, in 1993, that "the next real literary 'rebels' in this country might well emerge as some weird bunch of anti-rebels, born oglers who dare somehow to back away from ironic watching, who have the childish gall actually to endorse and instantiate single-entendre principles." As it turns out, Wallace was correct, if only partially so. The "sincerity ethos" looks rather different in 2013 than Wallace might have imagined, and certainly far different than it would have appeared at some other point in American history.

The challenge today's younger artists face is to find wholeness of being and clarity of emotion in the midst of a cacophony of Internet-Age stimuli. These stimuli are forever wrenching them back into our noisy American culture, one that impels them to a multifaceted, Internet-savvy selfhood that never feels entirely true or essential. The situation has all the markings of a catch-22: To be sincere, one must, presumably, deny the contemporary poet's multiple "artificial" selves, and therefore be insincere to the real state of affairs; yet to indulge the contemporary poet's multiple artificial selves is to sincerely detail the insincerity our culture sometimes forces upon us, and therefore be, however inadvertently, insincere in content if not design.

Wallace implicitly acknowledges this catch-22 in his essay "E Unibus Pluram," assessing the development of a genuine avant-garde in relation to the critical concept of risk. As Wallace writes, "The old postmodern insurgents risked the gasp and squeal...[t]oday's risks are different. The new rebels might be willing to risk the yawn, the rolled eyes, the cool smile, the nudged ribs...to be suckered by a world of lurkers and starers who fear gaze and ridicule above imprisonment without law."

Prior to the Program Era's promulgation of hundreds of literary micro-communities across the country, the particular brand of rebellion spoken of by Wallace was next to impossible. Either a poet subsisted in a large, centralized, hierarchy-conscious bohemian enclave on an American coast--the sort of enclave that still exists in New York City--or via the New Critical network that linked up the efforts of poet-scholars in numberless academic English departments (as opposed to fine arts-oriented Creative Writing departments). Or, a third possibility, one was a lone wolf toiling away in obscurity and isolation somewhere in middle America. Identifying loci for genuine "risk" against a landscape with such clearly-delineated quadrants was, it now seems, a fool's errand. (The final of the four quadrants we reserve for the American general public, against which American poetry has not butted up with any real vigor in many, many decades.)

Nevertheless, attempts to circumscribe various parties' "risk" have been made by many a savvy poet and scholar: The bohemians of New York City could argue (if not credibly) that they were forever butting up against the disapproval of the New Critics of the academy, and the long-hegemonic New Critics could falsely opine about suffering the stranglehold of conventional academia. Meanwhile, the isolatos could bemoan their interminable cultural irrelevance and personal despair. But to contend that any of these groups truly "risked" the disapproval (let alone hostile influence) of the others would be farcical. Each of these quadrants of American literature operated largely independently of the others. The Language poets never felt the cold jackboot of academia on their necks until they so desperately and emphatically sought its approval that a short-lived and entirely-manufactured confrontation (followed by a much longer détente) was inevitable; the New Critics were ascendant in the academy for decades (roughly, from 1930 to 1970), meaning that any claims of persecution could never have been more than rank self-mythologizing. And perhaps the sole benefit of being a solitary genius in America is never having the clammy hand of convention clapped down upon one's shoulder.

What was required to produce the condition of "risk" Wallace wrote of in the 1990s was some mechanism that would, on a national scale, blindly throw poets together with one another in close quarters, that would so violently juxtapose creative and performative spaces that a young artist desiring rebellion would have no choice but to perform her resistance in full view--literally in the very same room as--those whose disapprobation she sought to invite or risked inviting. The dramatic expansion of the nation's network of graduate creative writing programs across the whole of the United States in the 1990s and aughts provided just this opportunity, especially as it produced collisions not only among student poets but also among formerly isolated non-students who suddenly discovered vibrant, university-affiliated literary communities in their backyards. It is one thing to be an isolated author living in Wichita, it is quite another to be an author in Wichita as that city's literary scene expands rapidly via a horde of creative writing graduate students at Wichita State.

Andy Mister, who received his creative writing MFA from University of Montana in 2003, has long been an iconoclast among his fellow poets, engaged in precisely the sort of risk-taking behavior being an innovative "Gen-M" ("MFA Generation") poet requires. (At present, the generation of poets who reached the median program-matriculant age during America's creative writing boom encompasses poets born between 1964 and 1989.) What Mister undoubtedly risked in workshops in the early aughts, and thereafter in other spaces in part defined by university-affiliated literary enclaves, was an interest in multiple genres (in particular prose, music, and the visual arts) amid veritable gaggles of young poets invested exclusively in poems and poetry. He risked, too, a commitment to a certain brand of sincerity in rooms filled with young poets so self-conscious of their peers that irony or even mere detachment may well have seemed the safest redoubt. Poetry of Mister's vintage would not have been so impressive--or innovative--under different circumstances. In the absence of graduate creative writing programs (or the Internet culture that envelops them), it would not have been possible to use local context to prove, once again, that what is avant-garde is determined almost entirely in relation to an Era.

Of late, I and some others have begun using the term "metamodernism" to circumscribe both our own poetry and much of the innovative poetry and poetics we see emanating from Gen-M poets. We see this phenomena not only among many of those now in attendance at graduate creative writing programs, or those formerly in attendance at such programs, but also in those who have never attended an MFA but nevertheless live in the long shadow of a university-affiliated literary community.

Metamodernism is much more than the implicit proclamation that postmodernism is dead; it is an active and expanding poetics that makes positive submissions of a historically idiosyncratic sort. Chief among these submissions are the following: That wholeness in the Internet Age is possible without any denial of the subjective complexities of the period; that reflexivity in art can be achieved without irony or conventional artifice; that conventional craft and conventional prosody are more often hindrances to such an achievement than aids; that metataxic operations (that is, movement between poles as a means of superceding those poles) better returns Art to the praxis of Life than do the paratactic operations favored by postmodernists; that conflicting realities can be seamlessly interwoven without standing apart from any or all of them; that new metanarratives to inform both present and future are more readily realized in the superconscious and hyperconscious than in or through deconstructive linguistic codes; and that the hyperphysicality of self and culture is more immanent in the lives of today's youth than is the possible commodification of language as capital or material, the latter a premise younger Americans were raised on and thus long ago implicitly accepted. There are, of course, several other important and generative metamodernistic theses even more esoteric than these, but for now these will do.

We can readily see how the achievement of metamodernistic verse--which is deemed here the only plausibly "new" innovative space in American verse--requires of young poets that they be suffused in highly-populated dialogic and metadialogic spaces like graduate creative writing programs or non-hierarchical literary micro-communities of either a real-time or virtual constitution. A poet whose compositional spaces are entirely private does not wrestle with the cacophony of American dialogues as does a poet who is actually propelled into the midst of such dialogues near-daily. Nor does an isolated poet yearn for wholeness as desperately as a poet ensnared in public dialogue, as the former risks less in demanding wholeness (whether conceptual, spiritual, or psychological) and needs far less to attain it. It is comparatively easy for an isolated poet to avoid artifice and embrace idiosyncrasy; it is a dramatic assumption of risk and an historic triumph of artistic will for a poet in a graduate creative writing program to achieve these same ends.

It is immersion in institutional-communal spaces--if we acknowledge the historical fact that not all literary institutions are academic institutions--that inspires a poet to seek the hyperphysical in poetry. Meanwhile, the isolated poet (or the poet who merely appears now and again in literary settings to slather others with their genius) is more readily self-embodied and thus less hungry for the nourishment of literary superconsciousness and hyperconsciousness. And needless to say, no poet substantially invested in the workings of scholarly academia--as the Language poets and their successors have, sadly, become--can claim to wrestle with any of the above in the manner Gen-M poets do, for their self-sacrifices are entirely elective and their risks coldly calculated to impress both their professorial masters and posterity.

It is little surprise, then, that we see metamodernism arise in the context of institutions the avant-garde long ago reimagined, counterhistorically, as Establishment. When and where an "avant-garde" is defined solely by what it pushes against, poets aspiring to the status of innovators need only find the largest fixed object nearby--say, the outer walls of a university building--to push off from, whether or not literary history supports treatment of that object as hegemonic. (Language poetry first began terming graduate creative writing programs hegemonic when there were only ten such programs on Earth, and decades before graduates of such programs had won even a handful of major national literary prizes; this, then, is the desperation of any grasping avant-garde for a Villain.) Where, as Wallace encourages, the avant-garde is defined instead by what it risks, we can see that it is primarily from the belly of a compressive space that artistic courage and diamond-like brilliance emerges. Just so, to engage the old aim of the historical avant-garde--returning Art to the praxis of Life--requires artists who live as people do in the time and place in which they write, not those who have excused themselves from the primary restrictions attendant to the village green.

Gen-M poets far more convincingly replicate American sociocultural praxes in their literary subcommunities--and, consequently, better reproduce American modes of subjectivity creation--than do eccentric quasi-academics "printing out the Internet" in Mexico or forming selfie "corporations" in New York City. Gen-M literary subcultures are every bit as Internet-driven and multimedia and young and educated and collaborative and fluid as are the youth subcultures of the country in which they've arisen--which means, for once, that an authentic avant-garde can now not only coexist alongside popular culture but participate in and elevate it. This promises, for poetry, not only the first genuinely innovative literary phenomenon in decades, but also the possibility of a rapidly expanding general audience. As I wrote recently in this space, young non-poets are turned away from poetry not by drinking beer or smoking pot or playing video games or dancing in clubs with Gen-M poets invested in youth culture but also passionate about poetry; they turn from poetry because of precisely that pernicious academic influence in poetry that Language poets short-sightedly embraced in the 1980s, and that even now doctorate-holders like Mark Edmundson of Harper's (Yale University, Ph.D. in English, 1985) use to harangue poetry-readers into thinking the creative writing MFA killed American verse.

Just as postmodernism-inflected verse comes in endless varieties, so too does verse informed by a metamodernistic sensibility. Metamodernism is not, in other words, a period style; it is not a collation of superficial technical gestures; it is not mere adherence to a common theme; it is not a contrived curio of literary history, as are the many geographically-centralized poet-cadres scholars like Edmundson love transmogrifying anachronistically into movements (as was done with the historically and artistically farcical aggregation now known as "the Confessionalists"). It is, rather, a praxis for both Art and Life; a subjectivity particular to being a human and a writer in the Internet Age; and a sociology endemic to both humans generally and writers specifically in the said Age.

In view of the foregoing, conversations about the reach and textures of metamodernism in poetry ought be as ambitious and ranging as those on the topic of postmodernism and poststructuralist verse. Scholars who heretofore found it profitable to ignore the nation's youngest two generations of literary artists merely because some of them had spent two or three formative years in a university-affiliated fine arts program--when there would have been virtually no scholarship on twentieth-century Modernism had a similar bar been set in the 1930s, given how many Modernists intersected briefly with well-known Continental arts academies--will no longer warrant their titles as scholars without a deep understanding of the Program Era and "Gen-M" poetries. This explains, in part, this review series' commitment to so-called "horizontal" analyses of literary subcultures, rather than the fetishization of eccentric literary iconoclasts who may be ripe for canonization but are in no sense instructive as to what makes this Age superlative (even a "Golden Age" of verse, as I recently termed it.)

Andrew Mister's Liner Notes appears within the context described above. It is one manifestation of metamodernism, not its embodiment. The collection, a series of brief prose poems variously addressing musical culture's intersections with death and the poet-speaker's twenty-first century ennui, doesn't go in for flourishes of language--it is in no sense paratactic--and detractors will shortly conclude, on that scant evidence, that it fails to innovate. Yet nothing could be farther from the truth. Liner Notes is a consummate attempt to unify disparate selves in the Internet Age, a time in which the lives of others, even famous others, have somehow become the best expression of our own subjectivity. This is a deeply personal and affecting book, not because it descends into mawkish autobiography or conventional literary manipulations of language like metaphor or anaphora, but because it largely eschews such artifice. Instead, readers of Liner Notes are treated to a searingly sincere performance of the structurally insincere (as in, imitative) skeleton of the contemporary self. We are, all of us, Mister implies, authentic compilations of disparate texts and points of reference. For Mister, many or most of these points of reference are in music and the visual arts, though classification of the compendium Mister makes out of these citations as poetry is, for this critic, entirely unproblematic. What Mister achieves is the sort of mature and reflexive sincerity most of us suffused in contemporary American culture yearn for; it's the sort of sincerity that risks much, embraces complexity, and finally ennobles the self as no expression of the self more naive, ideational, or theoretical could do.

It's also, not coincidentally, precisely the sort of metamodernistic mechanism perfectly calibrated to attract a large general audience. Mister's relationship with art, particularly music, is so similar to the one many of us share that reading the implied narrative of his life in Liner Notes is like reading our own. And it is this fact, as much as any other, that testifies to the hyperphysicality of metamodernism generally and Liner Notes specifically. Evidence of this seismic shift in poetry's ambitions is present throughout Mister's collection, as in this passage: "The weather doesn't start to take shape until spring, then you'll see it all around you. Scattering out from a point. That point is not you. Or me." We are suffused, in short, in a reality that is both not our own yet encompasses entirely our environment. More broadly, we find Mister's metamodernism in the metaphysics in which Liner Notes so deeply invests: The withdrawal of Nick Drake's person from this Earth (he committed suicide in 1974) is traced atop the withdrawal of his music from the world; the poet-speaker discovers (crucially) only after hearing a song that makes him feel like he's on heroin that the song's title is in fact "Heroin"; as external music becomes more and more endemic to the poet-speaker's life, he finds his own throat tightening more and more often; Mister writes of seeking to "dissolve each distance in distance," a paradox only if one believes it possible any longer to clearly distinguish between multiple external realities.

The previous generation of avant-gardes so little understands metamodernism that one can imagine, in advance, their howls of protest as metamodernism begins its steady ascent in American literature. These are mere topical preoccupations, they might say; they are not, first and foremost, linguistic. What these former scions of American literary innovation fail to see is that the time for merely edifying America as to the realities of language is over; the time for speaking primarily in the language of realities is beginning. Metaxic (often hypotactic) verse simply has different aims from paratactic verse, and until those well-versed in the latter become well-versed in the former it will indeed appear as though metamodernism is merely a topical or thematic phenomenon--as though investigation of the nature of reality is somehow less rigorous and exacting than investigation of the written mark (or that these two investigations are not, finally, but two sides of the same coin). There is nothing louder, it says here, than an entirely new literary mechanism for circumscribing realities and selves, and if Mister's Liner Notes is superficially unassuming in its circumscriptions, readers ought not be fooled into confusing intellectual subtlety with conceptual silence.

Liner Notes is a book energetically engaged in exploring hyperphysicality from all sides and in all forms, and few sentences in the book fail to perform this monumental task with an almost shocking clarity. For instance: "Ian Curtis hanged himself in the kitchen of his Macclesfield home. He left a note that read: 'At this very moment, I wish I were dead.'" Curtis thus (with Mister as his witness and amanuensis) instantiates the movement from physicality to hyperphysicality; the writer (Curtis and Mister alike) testifies to the portal through which the self passes when it seeks union between the physical narrative of Life and the hyperphysical narrative of (actual or subjective) Death. Or consider: "In the distance the heat made a mirage floating above the street. But I wasn't going to see a movie, I was going to cash a check." Mister acknowledges, here, that encoded within the artifice of the Image is the Image-in-motion, the same cinematic self so often glorified in American culture. What is prescient, though, is how Mister so thoroughly intertwines Art (the Image) and Life (as cinema) that the notion of man-as-moviegoer may be treated as implicit in all real-time action. So it is that Mister must clarify that his poet-speaker is not attending the cinema, but merely performing a workaday task.

In postmodernism, cinema is not acknowledged as a universal preexisting condition, but merely one of many ephemeral guises a man or woman might adopt: that is, a performance. By foreclosing on the premise that the cultural self is elective, Mister forecloses, too, on the possibility of irony and the limitations of postmodernism. Instead, we see sincerity opening its eyes and accepting what it sees--including the presumptive insincerity of multiple selves and multiple realities--as ineluctable, true, and essential. Mister is not a man going to the bank rather than a movie, he is a movie being a man instead of a matinee. Liner Notes so consistently seeks and achieves this superlative level of engagement with metanarrative, metaxy, hypotaxis, hyperreality, hyperphysicality, superconsciousness, and hyperconsciousness that to call it anything less than genius is an insult to both its complexity and ambition.

Reading metamodernistic verse is bewildering if done correctly, and Mister's Liner Notes is no exception. Consider this paragraph: "Once when I was riding home in the school bus, I drowned. I had to convince myself that I was breathing. Just for a moment. People on the street will tell you things if you stop and listen. I don't stop because I don't have any money." In conventional lyric-narrative verse, the word "drowned" would here function as a metaphor; presumably, our hypothetical lyric-narrative poet would intend a comparison between panic attacks and drowning, which is to say that drowning and panic share traits in common, per the poet. At the first level of such a comparison, simile, one might say, "I felt like I was drowning"; at the second level of such a comparison, metaphor, we could expect the two terms ("panic" and "drowning") to be even more closely aligned, as in the implied comparison of the metaphoric construction "I was drowning"; at the third level of comparison we have actually moved beyond mere relation to actual equity, or what Mikhail Epstein calls metabole: Panic is not like drowning, in this new equation, it literally is drowning, as the contemporary subject-cum-poet-speaker loses the ability to distinguish between alternate realities with shared traits (the one in which literal "panic" is operative, and the other in which literal "death" is) and thus finds wholeness, form, and sincerity in the singularity, literality, and accuracy of these concepts' metabolic combination ("drowning").

In the metabolic function, as opposed to the metonymic or metaphoric functions, the two presumptive originary terms--"panic" and "death," in the example above--are both elided in favor of a common denominator, "drowning." "Drowning" is consequently elevated by the poet to the level of discourse; it becomes, in short, the poet-speaker's metareality. Mister achieves this effect by doubling down on his investment in the word "drowning" not once but twice: "I had to convince myself that I was breathing"; "Just for a moment." The poet here confirms that he means not to compare two realities but to unify and resolve them through metamodernistic linguistic operations. His rhetoric is not merely gestural--that is, he is not merely evoking the concept of drowning--it is essential to his always-already ambition of self- and world-creation. Thus lines which may at first appear ironic (because they conspicuously deny readers the word "panic") or sincere (because they conspicuously deny readers the word "death," thus implying a common and sincere fear of same) must be read as existing outside, or above, either irony or sincerity. In this way the poet-speaker creates a new metareality, one in which all elements of constituent realities are true but by themselves terminologically insufficient. In the Internet Age, the young do not feel "like" their essential selves are dying, for to say so would be to stand apart from those selves and ironically comment upon them; nor do they deny the breadth and depth of their desperation by wielding the weak sincerity of the word "panic." Instead, they accept myriad planes of reality as and for what they are: The immersion in dialogues from which there is no escape because, in fact, there is no outside to escape to.

We might perform a similar analysis on the two-sentence sequence, "People on the street will tell you things if you stop and listen. I don't stop because I don't have any money." The poet-speaker is here isolated from his culture ("I don't stop") and simultaneously impoverished by it ("I don't have any money"), yet at the level of metabole--the level at which these two sentences operate combinatively--we see neither the words "isolation" nor "poverty." Nor, indeed, could we even report conclusively that this poet-speaker is either isolated or impoverished, for consistent with the metabolic function, both of these originary terms have been elided from the discourse. Instead, we're greeted by a new reality, a metareality, in which the poet-speaker is caught in a sociocultural cycle of participation and non-participation, profit and non-profit. The poet-speaker knows how to access information in the Internet Age, but lacks the resources to engage any information-seeking processes. This is not "like" being isolated or impoverished, it is literally an always-already (that is to say, eternally preexisting) inability to process culture that is a permanent constituent of the self-as-subject. Mister expresses this idea in metabolic language, and thus over-leaps both the sincerity-irony spectrum and also the sort of theory-as-poetry or immanent language that might respectively define or perform it. Mister is, in short, describing without description, thereby avoiding and resolving the late Ed Dorn's longstanding complaint about description--that it destroys the actual self. Indeed, metamodernistic poets habitually find mechanisms to describe the self that are deadly accurate but avoid representation altogether, and thereby speak of the self in terms so suitable and exacting we may term their resultant self-identities "hyper-real" or "superconscious." This solution to the problem of the lyric "I" is far more elegant and ambitious and relevant to contemporary culture than any the previous generation of avant-gardes devised.

Undoubtedly, other iterations of the metamodernistic impulse in poetry read nothing at all like Mister's Liner Notes. To presume superficial similarities between all texts under the umbrella of metamodernism is counter-intuitive, as metamodernism treats with the immanence of multiple realities, not the immanence of language, and is therefore not primarily discernible at the level of "craft" or parataxis. Readings of metamodernistic texts consequently can't fall back on either the cursory craft analyses so often favored in the worst sort of creative writing workshops, nor even the equally tactile sensibilities with which poststructuralist authors and readers begin their investigations of linguistics.

The questions asked by metamodernistic writers and readers include, but are by no means limited to: How does this text instantiate a novel rhetoric (in the de Manian sense; that is, as rhetoric-in-structure) on the topics of physicality, consciousness, reality, narrative, temporality, subjectivity, juxtapositive dialogue, metaxy, metalinguistics, or spatial interrelationship? Each metamodernistic text is, invariably, invested in several of these concepts more so than the others, but no text that fails to grapple with any of these parts of speech in the language of reality may be considered metamodernistic. By way of example, this author's Thievery bears little superficial resemblance to Liner Notes, but is equally engaged by the rhetoric of temporality, subjectivity, metaxy, and metalinguistics. Meanwhile, superficial similarities between Liner Notes and Thievery are by no means coincidental: Both privilege the sentence, eschew adjectival modification, avoid description, flatten affect, juxtapose linguistic codes, and habitually deny or forestall grammatical or thematic resolution, among other shared local phenomena. While by no means prerequisites for metamodernistic verse, all of these technical elections may be considered metamodernistic mechanisms in practice.

Conversations about metamodernism--and about the death of literary taxonomies that fetishize superficial technical gestures, or lionize theories of language and the mind that fail to intersect at any point with the living praxes of younger Americans--are only just beginning. Poets are, sadly, among the last to join in; metamodernistic analyses have already been widely applied (almost exclusively in Europe, alas) to the visual arts, for instance. Others besides this author who are deeply invested in metamodernism, both in their poetry and their criticism, will shortly be adding their creative and critical voices to the creative one readers of Northerners and Thievery have already seen, and the critical one that patient readers of this space have watched develop over the past few months. For now, suffice to say that Liner Notes is an unparalleled exemplar of one important sector of metamodernism, and is by that token worthy of an immediate read by anyone planning to write poetry in, of, and for this American century.

{NB: Stay tuned to this space for much more on metamodernism in the coming months.}

A graduate of Harvard Law School and the Iowa Writers' Workshop, Seth Abramson is the author of three collections of poetry: Thievery (University of Akron Press, 2013), winner of the 2012 Akron Poetry Prize; Northerners (Western Michigan University Press, 2011), winner of the 2010 Green Rose Prize from New Issues Poetry & Prose; and The Suburban Ecstasies (Ghost Road Press, 2009). A contributing author to The Creative Writing MFA Handbook (Continuum, 2008) and a regular contributor to both Poets & Writers and Indiewire, he is also Series Co-Editor for Best American Experimental Writing, whose first edition will be published by Omnidawn in 2014. Presently a doctoral candidate (ABD) in English Literature at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, he has published work in numerous magazines and anthologies, including Best New Poets (University of Virginia Press, 2008), Poetry of the Law (University of Iowa Press, 2010), Poetry, American Poetry Review, Boston Review, New American Writing, Harvard Review, AGNI, Fence, and Colorado Review. In 2008, he was awarded the J. Howard and Barbara M.J. Wood Prize by Poetry.

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