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date: 25 February 2021

Abstract and Keywords

The avant-garde poets Tom Raworth, Allen Fisher, and Maggie O’Sullivan, all had strong ties to London during their formative years as poets, and despite their differences they share an interest in the construction of collage poems using sharp cuts from one topos to another. They also share a commitment to poetic experiment. The essay contrasts their poetics with that of J. H. Prynne, who has also made extensive reference to new scientific knowledge in his poetry. The latter part of the essay explores the implications of the use of poetic collage by examining the work of Allen Fisher in detail. He believes that the poetic splice can be a means of indicating the many-sidedness of everyday life. The collage of clashing lexical registers and different domains of knowledge, can according to Fisher, ‘be defined as more than one plane of reality presented in one plane of reality, a kind of simultaneity or a kind of cubist enterprise’. Such work he argues ‘requires research and experiment’. He treats the discoveries of the sciences as part of the necessary basis of civic life. At the same time he believes that a poet can wield similar authority over the production of knowledge, both as a practitioner with her or his own projects of inquiry, and by treating the poetic experiment as a laboratory where diverse materials from the contemporary world, including the sciences, can be tested, recombined, and transformed.

Keywords: London, poetry, science, experiment, collage, knowledge

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