Unoriginal Genius: Poetry by Other Means in the New Century

University of Chicago Press

"Perloff. . . refreshingly, doesn't blame the internet for the decline of culture or the closing of the American mind; she doesn't even think it's the death of poetry.  Hierophant of the experimental and the avant-garde, Perloff finds method in what some might see as the madness of late 20th-/early 21st-century developments like concrete poetry, Oulipian constraint, flarf (i.e. poetry made from, or written in imitation of, email spam), and even the conceptual reframing of traffic and weather reports.  The premise of her latest book, Unoriginal Genius: Poetry by Other Means in the New Century, is quite simple: the anchoring terms that have made a certain idea of the literary possible--genius, greatness, and originality--have failed to offer ways of understanding recent literary innovation.  This problem only increases with poetries rooted in citation, recycling, and other complex forms of mediation typical of the new digital age.  Perloff is not blind to tradition; she characterizes these new poetries as an extension of the modernist avant-garde project.  And while she rarely reaches as far back as [Harold] Bloom into literary history, she does encourage us to reconsider notions like originality and creativity, which were not literary values in the times of Chaucer, Spenser, and Shakespeare."-- Joseph Campana, Los Angeles Times Review of Books