Leave Us the World: Apophasis, Dissent and the Pluralist Politics of Charles Bernstein’s Poetry

  • Jason Lagapa
Part of the American Literature Readings in the 21st Century book series (ALTC)


Charles Bernstein makes prominent use in his poetry of the strategy of apophasis—a rhetorical figure of negation wherein an individual denies saying something in the exact moment of saying it. Lagapa contends that Bernstein’s denials are elaborate rhetorical gestures that not only explain his poetic methods but also initiate a debate about the purpose and politics of poetry. Such contentiousness is key to a utopian poetics. Bernstein understands the discipline of poetry as composing one large polis, in which argument is essential to poetry’s vitality and a vibrant, democratic political process. Lagapa argues that a dissenting, pluralist arena constitutes what would be an ideal world for Bernstein, in which poetics and politics might be perpetually and vehemently contested for the sake of social progress.


Charles Bernstein Utopia Negation Apohasis pluralism Dissent 

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© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jason Lagapa
    • 1
  1. 1.English DepartmentUniversity of Texas of the Permian BasinOdessaUSA

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