Future Tense

Now that the term 'Language poetry' has academic currency, debate surrounds whether this loose grouping of writers constitutes a 'moment' or 'movement' — and whether either formulation is ongoing. If this is a source of tension irresolvable in an article of this brevity, solace can be found in the fact that it is literally a tense problem for Bob Perelman. In The Marginalization of Poetry Perelman takes on the unenviable task of attempting to write a history of something in which he is still participating. As such, in trying to explain the condition of his subject, he has to confide that he is unsure whether he should write 'Language writing differs' or 'Language writing differed' (Perelman, 1996, p. 15). Treating Language poetry now as a set of generaliz-able concerns risks caricaturing, rather than characterizing, a large grouping of individual writers. Now that many are accessible to — and in some cases within — the Academy as a collective sign, it is hoped that the thinning out of oppositional rhetoric will enable more detailed reception of individual writers.

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