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This article is taken from PN Review 28, Volume 9 Number 2, November - December 1982.

The New American Poetry Stephen Fredman

WHERE is the new poetry? That perennial question for readers and writers may be harder to answer today than one might suppose. As a reader and writer in the tradition that calls itself 'avant-garde', I have been schooled to expect little magazines and small presses to provide my meat and potatoes. The other night I was brought up short, left far from satiated by a perusal of a journal that I expect to serve me a steady diet of new poetry. The journal is Sulfur, Clayton Eshleman's 'metamorphosis' of Caterpillar, which entered its dormant phase in 1973. Caterpillar one remembers as the risky, aggressive magazine that launched or consistently promoted the careers of Robert Kelly, David Bromige, Kenneth Irby, Diane Wakoski, Armand Schwerner, Jerome Rothenberg, Theodore Enslin, David Antin, Thomas Meyer, Richard Grossinger, George Stanley, Gerrit Lansing, Jack Hirschman and Eshleman himself; it also continued to publish writers featured by Eshleman's mentor, Cid Corman, in his Origin: Charles Olson, Robert Creeley, Robert Duncan, Larry Eigner, Cid Corman, Paul Blackburn and Gary Snyder. Though individual differences abound within this group of poets, they derive from and include, on the whole, the Black Mountain nexus.

Through the vehicle of journals such as Caterpillar, Origin, The Black Mountain Review, Yugen, Trobar and Io (see the collective post mortem on these journals in TriQuarterly 43: 'The Little Magazine in America: A Modern Documentary History'), the three generations of poets referred to above forged a remarkably rich and inclusive aesthetics, seemingly capable ...


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