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Significant American Poetry Movements, 1820-present

Romanticism
c. 1820-1850
celebrated the discovery of self in connection to the journey in nature; sensual detail and the telescoping of "the sensory moment," especially in nature
Transcendentalism
c. 1825-1870
philosophy celebrating with self-reliance, independence from modern technology; innovative forms, or pioneering free-verse form
Dark romanticism
c. 1830-1865
a.k.a. Gothicism; emphasized human fallibility, sin, and insanity; a darker response to American Romanticism
Realism
c. 1870-1899
simplification of style and image, concerned with "real," unsentimental issues in the American ethos and society
Naturalism
c. 1870-1899
belief that genetic nature and environmental factors ruled the individual
Symbolism
c. 1890-1910
highly influential to 20th c. poets, this end-of- century movement based its ideology on the structure of thought rather than poetic form or image
Modernism
c. 1915-1930
early 20th century, encompassing primitivism, formal innovation, or reaction to science and technology
Imagism
c. 1915-1930
based on description rather than theme, and on the motto, "the natural object is always the adequate symbol"
Harlem Renaissance
1920-1930
African American poets, novelists, and thinkers, often employing elements of blues and folklore, based in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City in the 1920's
Surrealism
c. 1925
a cultural movement known for its visual works; the aim of which was to "resolve the previously contradictory conditions of dream and reality"
Beat poets
mid-20th century
movement of the 1950's and 1960's concerned with counterculture and youthful alienation
Confessional poetry
mid-20th c. to present
poetry that, often brutally, exposes the self as part of an aesthetic of the beauty and power of human frailty
New York School
1960's
urban, gay or gay-friendly, leftist poets, writers, and painters of the 1960's
Magical Realism
mid- to late 20th c.
a movement depicting magical elements in realistic settings and situations, associated with the Latin American literary boom of the 20th century
Postmodernism
late 20th c.
a movement departing from modernism that purports the world is in "a state of perpetual incompleteness and permanent unresolve"
Spoken Word
1980's to present
postmodern urban movement of writers using speaking; emphasize the live, oral performance of the text for audiences
New Formalism
late 20th to present
a movement returning to traditional accentual-syllabic "formal" verse.
Performance Poetry
1980's to present
new spoken word poetry written for the speaking voice and theatrical components; favors audio recordings and digital media; spawned Slam and Def poetry
Flarf
21st c.
Internet-based poetry movement that uses Google and other web-based platforms to randomize and generate deliberately "bad" writing. Soft-spoken Caption Fail poetry is one of its sub-genres.
Last Updated: 01/23/2016

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