Avant-Folk is the first comprehensive study of a loose collective of important British and American poets, publishers, and artists (including Lorine Niedecker, Ian Hamilton Finlay, and Jonathan Williams) and the intersection of folk and modernist, concrete and lyric poetics within the small press poetry networks that developed around these figures from the 1950s up to the present day. Avant-Folk argues that the merging of the demotic with the avant-garde is but one of the many consequences of a particularly vibrant period of creative exchange when this network of poets, publishers, and artists expanded considerably the possibilities of small press publishing. Avant-Folk explores how, from this still largely unexplored body of work, emerge new critical relations to place, space, and locale. Paying close attention to the transmission of demotic cultural expressions, this study of small press poetry networks also revises current assessments regarding the relationship between the cosmopolitan and the regional and between avant-garde and vernacular, folk aesthetics. Readers of Avant-Folk will gain an understanding of how small press publishing practices have revised these familiar terms and how they reconceive the broader field of twentieth-century British and American poetry.
Avant-Folk is extremely well researched, rich in detail, thought-provoking and highly readable.
The homemade folk poetry publishing tradition is no obstacle to global recognition as Ross Hair shows in Avant-Folk: Small Press Poetry Networks from 1950 to the Present. Hair’s book points to the variety of ways that poetic networks can evolve and become important ways of sustaining ‘interpersonal relationships’ outside of the city.
Tears in the Fence
This is an intricate, painstaking and thorough book, stocked full of details about the minutiae of poets’ lives and works, as well as offering range of very interesting close readings... It offers an exciting array of detail about factors constituting poetic groupings, as well as providing tentative sketches towards a map of understanding the potent forces of marginality in constituting certain poetic identities and aesthetic styles.
Gareth Farmer, English Studies