What is Experimental Poetry? asks Beir Bua Press and the Answer – Cygnetism.

What is experimental poetry? Rule breaking, constrained, mindset work? Playing with time, altering how we use language, freeing words? Art as poems, em dash gone awry, perception and shadow exposed, code, hissing, invisible ink?

I asked some of the BBP poets and supporters on Twitter and below are the responses:

I asked some of the BBP poets and supporters on Twitter and below are the responses:

ROSE KNAPP: I like to think of it as anything outside what we’d consider the ‘mainstream.’ It’s perhaps a simplistic definition but one that works reasonably well.

NIKKI DUDLEY: I’m starting to think, as with most things, that the label rarely matters. Experimental can encompass a lot of things and for me, it’s very open. It can be something that disturbs me, makes me laugh, changes my POV, excites me, makes me think, makes me work.

MICHELLE MOLONEY KING: Agree, labels are problematic and can constraint uncovering new heights. I feel I must use them as a way to set people’s expectations that my poetry is not typical.

NIKKI DUDLEY: Yes, I agree. I sometimes say non-traditional writing, innovative, experimental and people seem to understand that a bit more. I don’t try to make it a huge thing though anymore – I think once they see it, they get more from it than they first thought.

BEIR BUA PRESS: I like that, non-traditional. Experimental no longer fits what it once did as all poets experiment.

MOYA COSTELLO: Take risks. Challenge. Disrupt. Transform. Question. Be uncertain, indeterminate, contradictory. Transgress, be hybrid. Be silent. Fragment, trace, be incomplete, nonlinear, nonhierarchical. Have a metadiscourse. Be intertextual. Or one might look at The Writing Experiment: even by checking some chapter titles: playing with language, running with referents; genre as a moveable feast; writing as recycling; fictocriticism; new media. Further strategies/markers from @Beigesang . ‘Poetic Revolutionaries’: ‘radical montage’, ‘parataxis’ (no subordinating based on sentence style), ‘syntactical jumpcuts’, ‘radical textual interruption’/‘non sequitur[s]’, voice shifts. Or Uncreative Writing, Kenneth Goldsmith … about intertextuality? How reading is Written on Gertrude Stein.

BILLY MILLS: My own distinction is more to do with ‘intention’; I prefer poetry where the poet sets out to discover to that where the poet sets out to express. For me the poem is not a vehicle for communicating meaning, it’s a vehicle for discovering the world. That’s ‘experimental’ for me.

Cumadóir ó Chorcaí: ‘What is experimental poetry?’ you ask? Attention-seeking and self-indulgent.

BEIR BUA PRESS: Does that say more about you than the experiments as isn’t all interpretation a composite of our inner worlds? Isn’t all art attention-seeking and self-indulgent?

BILLY MILLS: I like @microbius term Linguistically Innovative

Dr. MW BEWICK: In some ways, in the context that language continues to evolve, every utterance (as an attempt to turn experience, desire or knowledge into a comprehensible and useful communication) can be seen as a continued experiment. And that’s whether it’s ‘literary’ or not. So does that mean ALL poetry is ‘experimental’ too? It might do, but that’s not very useful to anyone. So what might distinguish ‘experimental’ writing? It must be to do with the active pursuit of experimentation. Because although all language is an experiment, we can’t get through a normal day thinking of it like that. We need common, shared and mutually agreed structures, forms, vocabularies, so we can come to trust what people mean. What an experimental poet might do, is actively to test these structures, forms and vocabularies, asking whether they suffice (and for whom), and whether they can be improved. It’s to start from a position of distrust rather than trust. Sometimes the results may be, for reasons of cultural shifts, an obvious and agreeable improvement. But at other times they may seem disagreeable, unworthy, de-stabilising, or even just nonsense. But they perhaps all serve the purpose of testing that pre-agreed, or trusted, linguistic/semantic/ontological ‘common ground’ through their prioritising of testing of form, vocabulary etc. At least, that’s my take on it, today.

MICHELLE MOLONEY KING: So a type of testing language and thus knowledge & mindset. Yes, all poets are experimental, but “experimental” is to be the child saying the emperor has no clothes. I’m a hypnotist and, for me, it’s a war against passively accepting linguistics. Still, fighting to decode, disarm, and allow new imaginings, demanding a present mind to make the serve predictable in atoms/life/others expectations/limiting beliefs/ and questioning “authority.” 

BILLY MILLS: We need more passive reluctance.

BILLY MILLS: In the end, you write what it is given to you to write in the best way you can. (The use of ‘given’ here should not be read as implying a higher force, unless life in its totality is considered a higher force.)

MICHELLE MOLONEY KING: is like that, a job, with work and some people, get to work as all,-stars while others in coal mines – and that’s OK because it’s just part of doing the work. Are you implying a type of soul contract?

BILLY MILLS: My view is that poets have little choice but to write, it’s an itch and we scratch it. Everything else (to exaggerate a little) is a question of technique.

BILL HERBERT: Quite keen on the sound of this hissing ink product. Is it potable at all?

KEITH JEBB: In small doses.

BILL HERBERT: That’s what Hissing Sid Rumpole always used to claim in court.

KEITH JEBB: I think you’ll find that Rumpole vs. Stiltskin no longer serves as legal precedent. Well, maybe in Scotland, but the Scottish Chaucerians are taken to be a unique case regarding the granting of poetic licenses.

KEITH JEBB: My man, William Dun Barrister, is entirely in agreement.

BILL HERBERT: Unfortunately, this decision left Gavin dug-less.

BILLY MILLS: The Kingis Quair.

BILL HERBERT: ‘Bot quhair is the King’s hair? Thair in the stare’s nest, thair…’

BILLY MILLS: Our plesance hair is all vane glory.

SOPHIE HERXHEIMER: All art that tries to escape on it’s barely formed legs through a doe that isn’t there is experimental. I meant to type door but the doe got there first. Proving a point that following errors down to their lairs can refresh the woods for the trees.

JAY BESEMER: I have been watching this bunch of threads with great interest but not adding my own ideas because Twitter isn’t a good place for them. but i have written & spoken a lot about these questions over the years:

BEIR BUA PRESS: So…is experimental for all poetry? If experimental is for all poetry then it’s not for BBP. Maybe we’re New Postmodern Experimentalists with Surrealist Kinetic edge? Some reject labels but I need it to help the archive for future searching poets. Save Fantasia -give it a NAME.

BEIR BUA PRESS: I’m gonna call it. I claim it to be Cygnetism. Each BBP work is a character of it and The Manifesto is each yearly anthology. #Cygnetism

JAY BESEMER: THERE ya go! (punches the air)

MORE QUESTIONS WE NEED YOUR ANSWERS FOR. Stay tuned to Twitter for our q’s and please answer with what you have or don’t yet know, all Twitter chat is appreciated.

When did experimental poetry start? What is considered experimental literature? What is meant by experimental writing? How do you write an experimental poem? Why is EE Cummings called the experimental poet? What is experimentation in modern literature? Why is experimental writing important? Who wrote metafiction? What is experimental reading? Where can I submit an experimental poem? Why is it difficult to understand metafiction? What are metafiction techniques? What is pastiche literature? What is the difference between parody and pastiche? Is postmodernism a satire? What is the difference between modernism and postmodernism? Do postmodernists believe in God? Postmodernist position on religion and God. How do you know if a narrator is unreliable? Is postmodernism a satire? Why is it called postmodernism? What makes a poem postmodern? What are the characteristics of the surrealist poetry?

%d bloggers like this: