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Kathy AckerWriting the Impossible$
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Georgina Colby

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780748683505

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748683505.001.0001

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Writing Asystematically: Early Experimental Writings 1970–1979

Writing Asystematically: Early Experimental Writings 1970–1979

(p.25) Chapter 1 Writing Asystematically: Early Experimental Writings 1970–1979
Kathy Acker

Georgina Colby

Edinburgh University Press

Chapter One examines Acker’s early experiments, written between 1970 and 1979, through the prism of the concerns of the poets associated with L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E. The poets’ collective vision of the social, political, and aesthetic transformative capacities of poetry clearly informed Acker’s practices. Key issues foregrounded in the opening chapter reverberate across Acker’s works: the crisis of the referent; the L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poets’ attack on the instrumental value of grammatically-centred language under capitalism; and their subsequent understanding of language-centred writing as a poetics of subversion. In its evaluation of Acker’s early writing experiments, ‘Murderer Criminals Join Sunlight’ (1972), ‘Homage to LeRoi Jones’ (1972), ‘Entrance Into Dwelling in Paradise’ (1972), ‘Working Set’ (1972), and ‘Journal Black Cats, Black Jewels’ (1972), the chapter makes a claim for the emergence of perceiver-centred spaces in Acker’s early experiments. The work of Jackson Mac Low is read as an important early influence on Acker. Her early procedural practices of writing through and typographical experimentation are early experiments that are formative to the complex writing practices found in her later works. In this way, Acker’s poetic juvenilia emerge as possessing important co-ordinates for an understanding of her later writing experiments.

Keywords:   L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E, Jackson Mac Low, juvenilia, Amiri Baraka, language poets, literary experiment, David Antin, radical modernisms, Ludwig Wittgenstein

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