The question that increasingly haunts emerging avant garde poets is how to establish their own identity in the face of the success of language writing (see Perelman 125 for a variety of ways in which this writing has been identified, always skeptically). While the term language writing finally identifies a huge range of theoretical stances and poetic sensibilities (Perelman 126), two characteristics of language writing have had the most impact on avant garde writers emerging in the aftermath of its success: language writing's use of critical theory to inform its poetic practice, and its social power as a relatively cohesive cultural and publishing network with a proven ability to establish international reputations. It remains true that the best way to establish one's identity as a writer is to create a intriguing and insightful body of poetry that readers look for and return to. The primary issue facing emerging avant garde writers in establishing their identity as poets is therefore that which has faced any writer; the issue of how to keep going, to keep wanting, trying, and perhaps succeeding in creating a significant body of work when there are so many pressing reasons to give up. Over time, the acute anxiety that emerging writers feel regarding their own identity as poets probably will be resolved, for many of them, by achieving a reputation worthy of their talents. Whether they achieve such reputations or not (and there are plenty of reasons for writers to feel anxious about this, since reputation in the world doesn't always go to those who deserve it), the struggle for identity among currently emerging writers may seem, in retrospect, not the huge stumbling block it seems right now. Still, the difficulties emerging writers are having in establishing their own identities are real and in some cases crippling, and are emerging from circumstances that need to be analyzed and understood so that the anxieties arising from them do not become wholly destructive. Language writing's use of critical theory both as an instigation to poetic exploration and as a powerful defense of that exploration has been a crucial factor in the ability of many language writers to establish significant reputations. Many writers associated with the language writing network are powerful critics as well as insightful artists. Bruce Andrews, Charles Bernstein, Lyn Hejinian, Susan Howe, Bob Perelman, Leslie Scalapino, Ron Silliman and Barrett Watten are only a few that come to mind. Whether they think of themselves as "language writers" or not (of the above group, Howe and Scalapino probably would most resist having the term applied to them), these writers have produced a body of critical work that in some cases rivals the significance of their poetry, although it's wrong to see that critical work as more powerful than the poetry itself, as many detractors have claimed.1 The critical sophistication of the language writers has enabled them to establish their reputations by giving them the means to explain in precise critical terms the value of their practice. But they have done so at a time when, in the absence of any broad response to poetic innovation on the part of literary critics or "general" readers, the ability to explain one's poetics, to defend one's reasons for writing in the way that one does, has become more and more necessary for avant garde writers. Many emerging writers may fear that if they don't write critically, they will never reach a significant readership. While in some cases worry about the need to provide a critical framework may be greater than necessary, some concern about this problem seems justified. Although there are complex exceptions,2 the language writers who have established the most significant reputations tend also to be those who have published the most critical writing. This conjunction is no accident. Whatever the worth of their poetry, as a group the language writers have gained attention primarily through the power of their critical writing. The significantly cohesive, group-oriented publishing network of the language writers also represents a significant cause of concern for emerging writers. It is important to point out that this concern does not come from any closed exclusivity or elitism on the part of language writers and the language network; writers in that network have, for the most part, shown themselves to be open to the work of younger writers. They have offered emerging writers significant opportunities for publishing and discusion, and have been more generous in most cases than the established publishing networks of an earlier time were to them. But it should not be surprising, nor even a cause for criticism, that the main networking concerns of the language writers are for their own work, and perhaps for the work of those emerging writers which most closely resembles language writing. Emerging avant garde poets thus face the same issue that the cottage industry of innovative poetry has faced throughout the twentieth century; how to establish significant venues for the publishing and promoting of new poetry. Emerging writers have not been particularly successful in establishing their own venues. While they are responsible for some of this lack of success, most of the fault lies in circumstances beyond their control. Discussing the differences between the publishing circumstances of language writers and of the emerging avant garde will help make it possible to understand some of their key differences as writers. Language writers, at least in their initial phases, had a strikingly clear sense of who was and was not part of their concerns. As a publishing network, the range of writers that the language network committed itself to promoting was significantly smaller than the range of avant garde writers now emerging. Language writers tended to be located in a few major areas, primarily New York and San Francisco, whereas emerging avant garde writers are widely dispersed, just as likely to come from the Midwest as from the coasts. In one sense, this fact attests to the success of the language writers-- many more writers have been influenced by them than were initially part of their activities. The poetic trends to which language writers were opposed were also clear; not only did they reject traditional formalism and MFA confessionalism, clearly non-avant garde poetries, they also tended to reject the speech-based writing of the previous generation of the American avant garde, writing which became known through Donald Allen's anthology as "New American Poetry." These rejections of other poetics meant that success for the language writers could be achieved through highly cohesive, often narrowly self-defined magazines, anthologies and publishing houses (Temblor, In The American Tree, and Sun and Moon being fine examples of such venues). Such projects were carefully articulated, strongly organized, well distributed and highly successful. While it would be wrong to see these projects as ultimately too exclusive, or even in the case of Sun and Moon primarily language writing oriented, they nonetheless presented a uniquely powerful front that managed, in the space of little more than a decade, to establish a number of new, major reputations. Emerging avant garde writers are more diffuse in their concerns, if only because there are so many more of them. But this diffuseness also comes from the ever-expanding range of poetic options available to them--if, as T.S. Eliot once said of past writers, "they are that which we know," then emerging writers have among their poetic influences not only work produced before and around the language writers but also the language writers as well. Furthermore, while many emerging avant garde poets continue language writing's rejection of all non-avant garde poetries, many other such writers, recognizing their own multiplicity in terms of poetic interests, do not feel the same compelling need to reject those poetries. Finally, for many emerging writers, the previous generation of avant garde poets--language writers and others--are also not figures to reject, which means that emerging avant garde writers do not necessarily separate themselves from previous generations of avant garde writers in the way the language writers often did. The lack of financial resources on the part of many emerging writers, coupled with a cultural climate viciously hostile to arts funding, has faced emerging writers with some rather stark economic realities. Although it is difficult to know the facts of a matter so hard to discuss and so huge in its ramifications, it is possible to argue that given the current financial climate, the emergence of a new avant garde publishing house with the power of Sun and Moon may not be possible. The effects of their particular social circumstances on the publishing activities of emerging avant-garde writers have been several. One is that the vast range of interests of emerging writers means that those writers, when grouped together, have much less clear theoretical similarity than the language writers. This often leads them to appear a directionless group, a criticism which Nick Lawrence lodges against the anthology Writing From the New Coast (Lawrence 151-53). Lawrence's mistaking a wide range of purposes, political and otherwise, for a failure to develop a singular "possibility of a meaningful politics" (Lawrence 152) makes clear how easy it is to misrecognize such a wide range of purposes as a lack of purpose, a misrecognition that only further adds to the sense that emerging writers aren't doing anything that hasn't been done before. Emerging avant garde publications are also just as likely to publish already established writers as they are to publish emerging writers, with the result that the work of emerging writers blends into, rather than stands out against, the work of their elders. And the lack of wide distribution for most emerging avant garde publications means that word about new writers doesn't always travel far. These several results lead to the perception that there is little distingiushes individual emerging avant gardists from each other and from their elders. To a great extent this perception is exactly backwards; the problem is that these writers are too distinct, too varied, to present the appearance of a clearly defined singular purpose which was precisely what enabled the language writers to seem unique, however much such an appearance was, in their case, also false. That is, the misunderstanding that made the language writers seem to have a singular purpose greatly helped them put their work forward, whereas the misunderstanding that emerging writers lack purpose makes them appear obscure. In any case, the kind of cultural environment that faces emerging writers as they attempt to define their practice calls for a slowly developing, careful articulation that at the same time it seems to prevent. At this writing, the results of a conscious search for a specific identity on the part of emerging avant garde writers have been at best mixed. For every careful response, there has been an overdetermined--in some cases a hysterical--one. But it is possible to make some statement about what emerging writers have in common. This commonality arises from, more than being imposed upon, the circumstances in which these writers find themselves. Reviewing the variety of published arguments on this topic can help that commonality be seen more clearly. Distressingly, two of the loudest claims for new avant garde poetries are potentially reactionary in their implications, and at times just plain silly. The editorial stance of the editors (primarily Lew Daly3) of the magazine Apex of the M promotes the exclusionary embracing of a poetry of ecstatic spirit that calls for "an unmediated, and therefore insurrectionary, love of the divine" ("State of the Art" 6). For all their insistence on their own radicality, Daly's essays claim an absolute spiritual truth, and reject any writers who question that truth. Daly calls for a "radical transparency of language" that "resists the notion that we are restricted solely to slippages within language to frustrate its conventional usages" ("State" 7). Yet Daly's essays do not discuss in detail issues of poetic technique, although it may be possible to assume that the work presented in Apex is taken by the editors to display the characteristics that Daly calls for (perhaps to a certain extent against the will of the writers themselves--it's hard not to think that writers like Bernadette Mayer, Ed Dorn, and Chris Stroffolino, among others probably, must feel some irony at the way they are grouped in Apex). Rather, Daly is interested in questions of belief, of ecstatic spirit heavily indebted to his sense of the philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas, with its insistence on a complex philosophical and spiritual relationship with the "other." Daly sees language writers as not only being complicitous with, but actually unconditionally and unself-consciously "reproducing and mimicking the methods and language of contemporary capitalism" through writing which "ultimately commits itself to the same anonymity, alienation, and social atomization of the subject in history that underlie capitalist geo-politics" ("The Contextual Imperative" 5). Such writing, "far from challenging, instead mimics and acquiesces to, the methods used for the transformation of information and experience in a media age" ("State" 5). Unfortunately, Daly offers no specific close analysis of any particular work by a language writer to back up his claim. This omission means that he doesn't address the fact that language writers see themselves as doing something completely different than his characterization of them suggests. Daly's essays are rife with contradictions, perhaps most painfully in the way that they do not recognize their own authoritarian elements. By calling for "the ecstatic" as "a pact with destruction" in which "we should sustain in hope and memory" the possibility of sacrificing "language to context, in a leap from textuality without end to irrevocable acts of violence against both self and state," Daly is calling for nothing less than religious holy war based on "the sacred, the erotic, and the prophetic," a holy war that sees poetry as an ecstatic utterance central to spiritual revolution ("Imperative" 6-7). Despite Daly's view that such revolution calls "for a resistance to transcendence" ("Imperative" 6), his absolutist rhetoric plainly locates the value of what he's saying in some truth beyond mediation. Daly means such notions, in political terms, to be radical and not conservative; the essay displays a genuine concern for "justice for and vindication of the subjected" ("Imperative" 6). But his essays see truth as the singular possession of those who share his view. From within that view, Daly reduces all other poets, including the language writers, to one-dimensional cartoons, puffed-up capitalist dupes whose theories have crashed on their own lack of awareness. The unfortunate result of such a vast misunderstanding both of others and of his own motivations means that, at their worst, Daly's essays become an unintentional parody of the religious ideologue. No less absolutist, and finally no less insistent on its own religiousity, is the "New Synthesis" argued for by John Noto in Talisman #11 and supported in that issue by a small anthology of representative writings. Noto argues for his New Synthesis as an emotionally charged recuperation in which writers "are comfortable in the new era in which they have arisen" (Noto 184). Although Noto tempers his call for "a full-blown return to music and lyricism in poetry" by saying such poetry is "unlike traditional lyric poetry," he sees these new lyrical flights, which his own essay enacts, as a way in which "both syntactic and semantic fractioning get incorporated...as part of a larger whole, just as in nature seemingly random 'fractals' actually may be described by geometries which represent a complex gestalt" (Noto 188). Noto's New Synthesis writer is a combination of the biological and the technological, the irrational and the scientific, who finally overcomes and rejects all functionalist mechanics in the synthesis of his productions. That is, Noto's New Synthesis calls for a poet who has absorbed and overcome experience in a sort of cyber-real coherence which rises above and organizes the contradictions of social experience. Although it explodes traditional poetic categories, it is a poetry of control, mastery, and transcendence, however mutated, which insists on the singular rightness of its own poetic forms. Both Daly and Noto state that one goal of emerging avant garde writers should be a rejection of certain aspects of the language writers' use of critical theory--Daly in the direction of holy war and Noto in the direction of the writer as transcendent cyberhero. Both writers insist on the value of irrational ecstasy as an antidote to what each sees as the dead technocratic utterances of language writers and critical theorists, who are grouped together as part of the same rationalist control machine. Both writers deserve applause for certain of their insights, primarily for insisting that poetry is not the tool of scientific rationality, or solely a pawn in the game of advancing academic careers. Both also deserve respect for their willingness to take on directly the identity crisis haunting emerging avant garde writers. However, in fundamentally misrepresenting both language writing and critical theory, and in calling for a unified and partly reactionary rejection of the insights of postmodernism regarding the relation between language and transcendence, Daly and Noto finally do emerging writers an unintentional but great disservice--that of making it appear that emerging writers do not understand the previous generations of the avant garde, rather than engaging ways of incorporating, without being subservient to, the insights of those generations. A more convincing possibility for "post-language" poetries has been suggested by Charles Borkhuis in his essay "Land of the Signifieds" and his recent book of poems Proximity (Stolen Arrows). Thankfully, Borkhuis never argues for what he does as the sole way poetry should proceed; rather, he simply maps carefully one particular possibility. Borkhuis makes a case for exploring the relation between American language writing and French Surrealism and its descendants, which he calls Late Surrealism and Textual Poetry. While Surrealism "privileges the dream image over grammar and syntax," and language writing "does the reverse," Borkhuis sees both traditions as consisting primarily "of writing about objects and processes in language, not about 'real' things or events in the world" (Borkhuis 273). Both traditions enact the relation between the writer and the world, according to Borkhuis, but do so through writing that "isn't about some other experience, it is the experience" (Borkhuis 274). Exploring the possibilities suggested by his own critical insights, in Proximity Borkhius presents poems that use both surrealist and language techniques to create a haunting and quietly beautiful meditation on the limits of image and language, and on the continued power of the metaphysical silence from which cultural sound emerges. In some comments in an article that appeared in Taproot Reviews, "Antslide: Recent Anthologies," Steve Evans also offers some useful suggestions for a "post-language" avant garde. Rather than settling for a collective "death of the subject," (one that, I must point out in contrast to Evans, seems suggested more strenuously by language writing theory than by its poetry), Evans promotes some recent experimental writing that is not afraid to risk the subjective, interpersonal, and emotional as part of its cultural critique. Contrasting a number of poets appearing in the Potes and Poets anthology The Art of Practice: 45 Contemporary Poets, Evans prefers work which implicates the author's subjectivity in its structure, or tries otherwise not to settle for overly self-contained and controlled structuralist irony "as a curative balm meant to take the sting off the frequently lethal contradictions of capitalist society" (Evans 15). Contrasting the work of Dodie Bellamy and Johanna Drucker, for instance, Evans writes that "Bellamy's is the riskier and more interesting diagnosis. Whereas Drucker eliminates the margin of subjectivity, Bellamy... complicates it, and in doing so identifies utopic potentials such as those stored in fantasy rather than conceding dystopia as 'all that is the case'" (Evans 15). Evans' sense of the "margin of subjectivity" does not imply a return to notions of the transcendent subject, but rather seems to suggest a notion of authorial subjectivity as a field of complex and specific reactions to specific structural problems. Unfortunately, Evans' essay does not develop this notion in detail.4 As a result, he seems at times to run the risk of lumping all "non-subjective" avant garde structuralist critique together. However, these problems seem more omissions than misunderstandings, and Evans' piece, if not quite thorough, nonetheless suggests a number of intriguing possibilities. I would like to suggest, however, another set of possibilities for emerging avant garde writing, one that does not call for exclusivity of form like Daly or Noto, or articulate a single if highly useful possibility in ways similar to Borkhuis or Evans. Rather, the range of possibilities I see for emerging avant garde writers comes exactly from the wild variety that has been criticized as a lack of purpose by Lawrence and others. Rather than seeing this variety as a failure, or insisting on the importance of any specific group of techniques, I think it is exactly this ability to explore a huge range of possibilities, and a willingness to accept that range, that may identify what is best about emerging avant garde writers. This intense multiplicity of poetic purposes and formal concerns that marks emerging writers as a generation distinct from their predecessors. To emerging avant garde writers, techniques developed by the language writers seem only one of a huge range of poetic possibilities. Many feel free to use techniques disavowed by language writers, and even more surprisingly, to use techniques sometimes not considered avant garde at all. Evans, for instance, although his argument is clearly for recontextualizing the notion of the subject, could be understood as trying to explore a relation between confessional or highly personal poetry and strucuturalist critique, rather than seeing the two as fundamentally in opposition. The formal innovations of the Beat generation and New York school also have significant influence on emerging writers, as have the poetics of Olson, Creeley, and other New American speech-based writers. For emerging writers, this vast array of poetic possibilities does not necessarily come with the need to reject other poetries that seems a dominant concern of all earlier generations of avant garde writers. This multiplicity of form should not be misunderstood as an unself-aware presentation of multiple voices speaking their own subjective concerns. Rather, it is a multiplicity of consciously used formal conjunctions, disjunctions, refusals, acceptances, celebrations and despairs that can make use of all formal possibilities in the various situations from which they speak. That is, it is a highly critical use of poetic forms that explores the tensions between all conceivable formal possibilities as the ground of its practice. Thus, far from being politically complacent, despairing, or confused, as Lawrence would have it, such writing is opening up many new investigations of form with a whole range of specific critical purposes, one of which is a definite and highly vocal critique of many political and cultural practices. In his essential introduction to the anthology of poetics Writing From the New Coast: Technique, Steve Evans has suggested something similar in his argument that the emerging avant garde writers appearing in that anthology are linked by their "hatred of Identity" (Evans, "Introduction" 5). Evans argues that every creation also involves a negation, and that the particular negation of emerging avant garde writers can be found in their rejection of the public identities created and demanded by market capitalism: "As the following pages attest, every available concept of non-identity (the other, the alien, the amodal, the non- or extra-linguistic, etc.) is employed--but with a sense of dissastisfaction, as though these concepts were not non-identical enough" (Evans 7). Evans locates these concerns as emerging from two traditions; that of "radical linguistic practice" and that of "radical social practice" developed in the twentieth century. While in so doing he overlooks some sources that are not entirely "radical linguistic practice," he is certainly right that even less "radical" poetic forms are put to radically changed uses. Evans concentrates, in precise and accurate detail, on the ways emerging writers refuse to be commodified by market capitalism and even, by implication, by the history of poetic production. Yet by emphasizing the negations of emerging writers, Evans' introduction tends to look less at the ways in which these writers are also building identities, although they are identities that need to be understood as critiquing, rather than capitulating to, the capitalist notion of Identity that Evans so accurately criticizes. Therefore, Evans' essay ultimately leaves these writers too dimly seen, as if they are hiding out, refusing to participate, rather than aggressively asserting new ways of participating. As Evans implies, the use of multiple forms by emerging writers is not purely derivative of earlier poetries.5 While borrowing from numerous sources, are configuring those sources in ways not attempted before, re-mixing a huge range of possibilities to meet their own concerns. Examples of these new configurations are numerous, both in terms of poetic and editorial practices. A list of them can only be partial, and will both leave out key figures and rely on the kind of critical shorthand that can never do justice to a writer's work. The writing of Lee Ann Brown, Dodie Bellamy, and Kevin Killian displays a complex relation between disjunctive language and explorative sexualities, although Brown is an East Coast poet indebted to New York School writing and Bellamy and Killian are post-New Sentence West Coast narrative writers. Significant use has been made of the relation between the lyric, ideological critique and language structuralism in the work of writers like Chris Stroffolino, Elizabeth Burns, Jean Donnelly, Bill Tuttle, Buck Downs, Elizabeth Fodaski, Peter Gizzi, Joe Ross, and in some of my own writing; all these writers, in various ways, write a poetry that is deeply personal, socially engaged, and concerned with questions of language and syntax, good examples of the kind of work Evans promotes in his article in Taproot. The ironic social landscapes of Jefferson Hansen, Rodrigo Toscano or Rod Smith are clearly indebted to language writing, yet have elements of a specifically located, almost Objectivist social realism; Hansen's narrative sweep has a midwestern inflection, Toscano's jarring disjunctions arise from social conditions in southern California, and Smith's deeply wry, precise understatements reflect the ironies of urban east coast power struggles. Cutting edge theatrical, film and pop culture techniques have influenced the work of Jena Osman, Stacy Doris and Juliana Spahr: Osman has made use of Brechtian alienation affects, Doris plays interestingly with science fiction, and Spahr has used elements of avant garde film, horror movies and talk shows. Less strident in its insistence on its own spirituality than the essays in Apex of the M, the consciously anachronistic aestheticism of Elizabeth Willis, Elizabeth Robinson, or Pam Rehm explores the continued possibility of avant garde religious poetry, to which the satirical alchemy of Kim Rosenfield serves as evil twin. Susan Schultz, Mark Ducharme and Ben Friedlander all write a highly introspective, philosophical poetry, although Schultz' and Ducharme's work is more concerned with social irony, and Friedlander's writing is influenced by his knowledge of the European philisophical tradition. New conjunctions of visual art and poetry are appearing in the writing and publishing activities of Bill Howe, John Byrum, Bob Grumman and Spencer Selby. Much is already being done with Borkhuis' suggestions about the conjunctions between surrealism and langauge writing in the work of writers like Will Alexander and Andrew Joron, and even Daly and Noto offer potentially valuable explorations, if they would only relax their drive for singularity and mastery. Many other writers whose work might be considered post-language in various degrees should be mentioned here as well: Michael Basinski, Martine Bellen, Cydney Chadwick, Daniel Davidson, Jeff Derksen, Robert Fitterman, Forrest Gander, Drew Gardner, Lisa Jarnot, Myung Mi Kim, Bill Luoma, Joshua McKinney, Mark McMorris, Jennifer Moxley, Gale Nelson, Cole Swensen, and Thad Ziolkowski are only some of them. There has been far-reaching editorial activity also; the collaborative editorial format of the journal Chain, the wide coverage of the review newspaper Taproot Reviews, the multiple formal concerns of Poetic Briefs (which more than any other recent poetics publication has insisted on the necessity of the kind of formal multiplicity I am suggesting in this essay), among many others. Of course, whether emerging avant garde writers see this multiplicity as the source of their own strength is a complicated question. Some do and some don't, which I suppose is only fitting, given the cultural circumstances I am discussing, in which what is missing is any way to find a singular purpose, even mistakenly, among these writers. Furthermore, the relation between their poetic purposes and their political purposes remains complex, especially in a time when, as Lawrence notes, writers are futher and further alienated from the possibility of much political significance (Lawrence 152). But it is a mistake to see the lack of that significance as the cause of this formal proliferation, as Lawrence does, rather than seeing this proliferation as a way of re-engaging the possibility of significance. It might be asked what the value of pointing out a generational identity might be, if it is precisely a singular identity (if not "Identity" itself, as Evans might have it) that these writers are rejecting. There are several responses to that question. One is that the conjunction, in this essay, between a description of emerging avant garde writers and a defense of their value, may make it easier to see the significance of what these many and varied writers are doing. Much more important, but unavoidably linked to the above need, is the real human activity at stake in the identity crisis that currently faces emerging avant garde writers. Unable sometimes to see a place for themselves in the ongoing changes of poetry or in the currently established poetry production networks, many writers I know feel a great pain, confusion, and even despair, and the danger of giving up seems very high. It would be too easy to say to such writers that they shouldn't worry about how they will be received, but should simply continue plugging away in the hope of one day achieving some small measure of recognition. Writing is a hard and frequently lonely calling, and the isolation and dispersion of emerging avant garde writers is often crippling. Most people need and deserve response to the things they take seriously; if that response is not forthcoming, more than the work itself is often sacrificed--along with it can go the energy, engagement, and commitment of the individual to any significant practice. Articulating possible ways of reading emerging avant garde writers may be exactly the best way to create for them a significant readership and the varied human contact that may make it worthwhile to continue. Despite the obstacles facing emerging avant garde writers, the "post-language" avant garde has a uniquely broad range of opportunity. Avant garde writers now have the chance to try out numerous formal possibilities and to work with a variety of influences broader than that of previous generations. If they can recognize the value of this range of possiblity, they also have great potential to resist the sort of narrow labelling that almost always ends up doing harm to the complex interactions of poetry, however much it may help certain writers establish their names. While some people may argue that emerging avant garde writers can do nothing that will have the visceral shock that language writing initially had, that argument is difficult to prove. How do we know what anybody will do until we've seen what they've done? For emerging avant garde writers, all the convictions of earlier generations about the value of poetic forms are up in the air again, a field of play rather than of certainty. Works Cited Charles Borkhuis, "Land of the Signifieds, or Writing From Inside Language." ONTHEBUS, 1992. 268-280. Lew Daly, "Ends Irrespective of (The Limits of) Their Means." A Poetics of Criticism (Buffalo, NY: Leave Books, 1994), 187-196. Steve Evans, "Antslide: Recent Anthologies." Taproot Reviews #6 (Cleveland, OH: Burning Press, 1995), 14-15. Steve Evans, "Introduction." Writing From the New Coast: Technique (Providence, RI: Oblek 1993), 4-11. Nick Lawrence, "Review." I Am A Child (Buffalo, NY: Tailspin Press, 1994), 151-152. John Noto, "Response to the Postmoderns (and Post-Punkers!)." Talisman #11 (Hoboken, NJ: 1993), 183-191. Bob Perelman, "Language Writing and Literary History," Aerial 8 (Washington, D.C.: Edge Books, 1994), 123-140. "State of the Art." Apex of the M #1 (Buffalo, NY: 1994), 5-7. "The Contextal Imperative." Apex of the M #2 (Buffalo, NY: 1995), 5- 8. 1. In "Ends Irrespective of (the Limits of) Their Means," in many ways an invective against language writing, Lew Daly launches the typical, and I think mistaken, complaint that "The L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poets' self-styled repoliticization of poetry during the seventies and eighties, while it has undoubtedly made theoretical contributions of lasting importance, especially with regard to its carefully considered emphasis on the materiality of language and its consistent questioning of the authority of the speaking subject, still falls short of its own theoretical advantages when faced with the requirement of creating inspired poems" ("Ends" 191). As with many similar claims, Daly's rejection of language writing is not accompanied by a close analysis of the supposed failings of any particular piece of language writing. 2. Clark Coolidge and Michael Palmer, for instance, are writers of large reputation on the basis primarily of their poetry, and Coolidge is even actively resistant to most critical writing. Yet both writers have roots in movements prior to language writing, and so can be considered language writers only to a certain extent. Lyn Hejinian and Leslie Scalapino, both of whom have written significant critical work, have reputations also based primarily on their poetry. Michael Davidson and Nick Piombino, both excellent critics, are not well known outside the language network. Despite these exceptions, it's still true that language writers as a group have achieved their reputation more because of their critical work than because of their poetry. 3. Although the editorial pieces that begin each issue of Apex are unsigned, a stylistic comparison with Lew Daly's essay in the collection A Poetics of Criticism will show the writing to be primarily his own, to whatever extent the other editors may have shaped it or agreed with it. 4. Luigi Bob Drake, editor of Taproot Reviews, tells me that only part of Evans' essay appeared in Taproot. Thus my comments here are based only on the currently available portion of that essay. Quite possibly the complete essay answers the concerns expressed here about Evans' lack of thoroughness. 5. I don't want to go too deeply into the problems presented by thinking of poetry in terms of the "new" and the "derivative," which I discussed in greater detail in my essay "The Lyric As Experimental Possibility" (Witz, Spring 1995).