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Objectivism

A term coined by William Carlos Williams in 1930 that developed from his reading of Alfred North Whitehead’s Science and the Modern World. He described it as looking at a poem “with a special eye to its structural aspects, how it has been constructed.…” Louis Zukofsky expanded the term and attempted to articulate its principles when he guest-edited the February 1931 issue of Poetry. He included Charles Reznikoff, George Oppen, and Carl Rakosi. Later, the poet Lorine Niedecker was closely associated with this movement. These “objectivist” poets, Zukofsky noted, were Imagists rather than Symbolists; they were concerned with creating a poetic structure that could be perceived as a whole, rather than a series of imprecise but evocative images. For more on objectivism, read Peter O’Leary’s feature, “The Energies of Words”. Browse Objectivist poets.

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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