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Burnett explores the philosophical and ethical motivations for working with innovative poetry that risks receiving minimal financial or relational recompense. The wagers of Albert Camus, Blaise Pascal and Joan Retallack are considered as conceptualisations of risk that might support such decisions. Burnett draws on the philosophy of Aristotle, Levinas, Riker and Spinoza; and contemporary criticism of Bourriaud, Morton and Saper; to further elucidate these motivations. Retallack’s concept of poethics is used to consider the risks of an innovative poetry career in terms of limited agency. Poetry’s role in developing personhood is discussed, suggesting certain psychological advantages to working with poetry as gift. Case studies include Bob Holman and Bowery Poetry (and his “poetic economy” concept); Anne Waldman and Naropa; Bob Cobbing; feminist performance; ecopoetics practitioners.
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