Notes on Post-Conceptual Poetry

FELIX BERNSTEIN’S debut essay collection, Notes on Post-Conceptual Poetry, is not what you would expect from a 23-year-old, Brooklyn-based writer and artist. This is not a book of cosmopolitan post-internet lyric poetry. Instead, Notes begins with a long essay (including an appendix and footnotes) that mockingly critiques the various trends in American experimental poetry since the 2000s, charting the Conceptual Poetry scene that has revolved around Kenneth Goldsmith, Christian Bök, Craig Dworkin, Vanessa Place, Caroline Bergvall, Kim Rosenfeld, and Rob Fitterman.

Born in 1992, Bernstein swerves in and out of the scenes he discusses, the millennial conditions he diagnoses, and the “new sincerity” he critiques. His own self-suspicion flippantly resists the notion of network building that his father, Charles Bernstein, so neatly perfected with his original publication of the journal L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E in the 1970s (and then later with his institutional curatorial projects — the Electronic Poetry Center and PennSound). His attitude puts him at odds with some of his peers. Bernstein takes to task those urbane poets who, in his view, attempt to update the New York School and pledge allegiance to coterie and art in the name of queerness and subversion. Yet he self-consciously makes these same moves himself. / Cassandra Seltman, Los Angeles Review of Books

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