T’ang’s Bathtub: Innovative Work by Four Canadian Poets


This paper asks whether poets' forging of new literary forms or uses of language should be determined by the usefulness of these innovations for effecting political change. Statements of poetics by William Wordsworth and Ezra Pound show that major poets in the past regarded linguistic innovation as essential to the work of poetry. The essay then discusses statements of four contemporary Canadian poet/innovators: Jeff Derksen, Roger Farr, Erín Moure, and Lisa Robertson. Derksen and Farr offer a poetics of intervention and resistance to neoliberalist policy whereas the writings and poetics of Moure and Robertson open a visionary field of playful experimental form where critique of neoliberalism is but one thread. The paper suggests that highly accessible language is more likely than innovative language to effect political change, but that each generation must invent a language it can think in, in response to the social conditions of its time.

This article “T’ang’s Bathtub: Innovative Work by Four Canadian Poets” originally appeared in 21st-Century Poetics. Spec. issue of Canadian Literature 210-211 (Autumn/Winter 2011): 116-132.

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