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Obscenity and Disruption in the Poetry of Dylan Krieger

Thomas Simmons

Obscenity and Disruption in the Poetry of Dylan Krieger is the first full-length study of the radical poetry of Baton Rouge-based poet Dylan Krieger. Wickedly smart, iconoclastic, daring in their critiques of religion and contemporary culture, Krieger’s poems rank with Allen Ginsberg’s and Adrienne Rich’s as the most provocative and avant-garde of any recent generation. With its debt to third-wave feminism and the "Gurlesque," Krieger’s work nevertheless moves outward and backward across the landmines of sexual precocity and religious fundamentalism and across the entire western project of epistemology as Krieger came to understand it at the University of Notre Dame. Though this book necessarily stays close to Krieger’s specific poems, it follows her lead in stretching her cultural, sexual, and religious furies to their apotheosis in a manifesto of liberation.

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How so complex a relationship between the avant-garde and society came about is a problem we shall try to resolve when we deal with the relations between avant-garde art and fashion, and when we study that special and complex phenomenon called alienation.

—Renato Poggioli, The Theory of the Avant-Garde

Just as the play of signifiers contradicts and undermines any claim of possessing a well-defined, conceptually unequivocal, logocentric discourse, so material experience may contradict and undermine the prevalent ideology of a ← 1 | 2 → historical situation.

—Peter Bürger, Theory of the Avant-Garde

This is the first book-length study of the most exceptional and iconoclastic young poet I know, Dylan Wesley Krieger. In its alienation, its voices, its multiple methodologies, and its complexity, her work manages to be the contemporary heir to Walt Whitman on the one hand and to Allen Ginsberg on the other, but also to Adrienne Rich and, however ironically, to Louise Glück. It is a body of outrage in debt to the Marquis de Sade, and yet at other times coolly brilliant in its theological and philosophical analyses, drawing heavily on Husserlian phenomenology but demonstrating a mastery of western metaphysics from Plato to the present. Its critique of Christianity in the present, or rather, as Peter Bürger says, Christianity in “the prevalent ideology of a historical situation,” is precise and devastating. Just as Ginsberg’s Howl and Other Poems was charged as “obscene” in 1955, Krieger’s work...

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