Steve Roggenbuck, Metamodernist Poet

That poems like Roggenbuck’s blur and ultimately erase the line between Life and Art almost goes without saying, given that a typical line from a Roggenbuck poem reads like a tweet wrapped inside a Facebook status wrapped inside an email excerpt, the whole then quite self-consciously packaged (whether in e-book form or in one of the poet’s ubiquitous YouTube videos) as Art.

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Recently, Roggenbuck has been miscast as a “Conceptualist,” which is unfortunate given that group’s penchant for bulk appropriation, uncreative curation, lit-theory sponsorship and a way of being in the contemporary poetry community that relies much more on old-guard institutional patronage than the sort of DIY ethos evident in a poet who’s self-published nearly all his work and lives (if rumors are true) largely off tee-shirt sales and other similarly bohemian ephemera.

A more likely precursor to Roggenbuck is the proto-metamodern (and counter-Conceptualist) literary phenomenon of the aughts, “flarf”, which like Roggenbuck revels in the joy of objectively “bad” verse (craft-wise) and celebrates the hybridity of online texts and discourse modes, but unlike Roggenbuck eschews creative writing, emphasizes impersonal data, deliberately skirts sense, implicitly fosters cliquishness (via its “Flarf Collective”), and by and large maintains conventional lyric form.

Seth Abramson, On American Metamodernism (Contemporary Poetry Reviews #26).

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