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Discrepant Engagement, Discrepant Engagement, 0817310320, 0-8173-1032-0, 978-0-8173-1032-5, 9780817310325,

Discrepant Engagement
Dissonance, Cross-Culturality, and Experimental Writing
by Nathaniel Mackey

Quality Paper
2000. 214 pp.
Price:  $32.95 s

This highly regarded and frequently referenced work of literary criticism is essential to any study of avant garde poetics.

Nathaniel Mackey addresses the poetry and prose of a number of authors not commonly grouped together: black writers from the United States and the Caribbean and the so-called Black Mountain poets. Although they are seemingly disparate, these writers are united by their experimentation with style and form. Mackey, an important contemporary poet and critic, focuses on the experimental aspects of their work rather than on its subject matter or authorship to show that they all share an implied critique of conventional poetic practices.

Mackey analyzes the work of Black Mountain poets Robert Duncan, Robert Creeley, and Charles Olson, African American poets Amiri Baraka and Clarence Major, and Caribbean writers Edward Kamau Brathwaite and Wilson Harris. He frequently brings the work of these authors into dialogue and juxtaposition, noting the parallels and counterpoint that exist among writers normally separated by ethnic, temporal, or regional boundaries. By insisting that their experimentation unites these writers rather than marginalizes them, Mackey questions traditional notions that underlie conventional perceptions and practice.

In his epilogue and bibliographic essay, volume editor Michael Conniff suggests new directions for further research and offers a comprehensive survey of the evolution of major writings, theories, and methodologies in the field.


Nathaniel Mackey is Professor of Literature at the University of California, Santa Cruz.



"Insisting on the political importance of radical innovation without the trappings of intellectual fashion, tempered by an awareness of the historical scale of his assertions, and challenging liberal notions of cultural pluralism and artistic opposition, Nathaniel Mackey makes an important, sophisticated contribution to current debates about cultural diversity and the political relevance of experimental writing."
—Contemporary Literature

"Nathaniel Mackey has accomplished his task admirably. Discrepant Engagement demands from us an openness to alternative frames of reference and a recognition of the ways in which traditional categories restrict our own perceptions of the potential for intertextuality among cultures, literary schools, races, regions, and rubrics."
African American Review

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