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National Poetry Month: Postmodernism Poetry

Celebrating National Poetry Month

In the 1960s the counterculture movement found throughout much of the US resulted in new types of artistic expression. Postmodernism Poetry is a type of poetry that flowed naturally from that counterculture and is often noted for a few stylistic and thematic aspects. These types of poems can be difficult to read and understand, and this is often done on purpose as a way of reflecting the poem back toward the reader.

Postmodern poetry often deals with themes of meaninglessness or lack of reality, and frequently demonstrates an existential point of view. Postmodern poetry often includes themes of restlessness and is usually written in a very free format. Line breaks and structures can be chaotic or seemingly meaningless, though there is usually a purpose for the unusual breaks. Postmodern poetry can frequently deal with existential or nihilistic themes. While existentialism and postmodernism are not synonymous, they are frequently related.

There are five key characteristics to Postmodernist Poetry: the embrace of randomness (Postmodern works reject the idea of absolute meaning), playfulness (black humor, word play, irony and other techniques of playfulness often are employed to dizzy readers and muddle the story), fragmentation (collage-style forms, temporal distortion, and significant jumps in character/setting), metafiction (drawing attention to their work's artifice and reminding readers that the author isn't an authority figure), and intertextuality (pastiche and the combination of high and low culture).