Code for Action


Do not get stuck on terms, labels or definitions

Terms, labels + definitions cannot be trusted

Know that the term “experiment” is dangerous

Know that everything is an experiment

Make it new

Stop saying make it new

Regard the term “experiment” with doubt

Do not regard the term “experiment” with doubt

Remember: 150 years ago the term “experiment” had a negative connotation

Refresh your memory: Today the term “experiment” is seen as valuable

Focus on failure + uncertainty; it is valuable


Do not be predictable or complacent

Be predictable and complacent only if time rewinds

Blame experimental poetry rules on US culture and society

Know that US culture and society is unsteady so brace yourself all you experimental poets

Accept that failure is no longer belittling

Fail in a poem and win a prize

Experiment and be regarded with high praise

Move outward

Break fixed linguistic habits

Write a poor sentence

Go in a new direction

Do not follow any other poet — everyone is lost

Write in a new field of possibility

Go wild or go home

Be unsure of the I

 Socialize with language

Use poetry to perform

Make language move

Take a lot of risks

Form risks

Make your form a risk


Be a cultural phenomenon







2 thoughts on “Code for Action

  1. This feels like a nice summary piece for the semester, it has elements and themes we’ve been talking about from all of the different works we’ve read and discussed. I think that what this really nails for me is that sort of one step forward/one step backward sort of thing that comes with experimental literature because of how broad the definition is. Anything can be it if viewed a certain way, and something could not be included for similar reasons. You achieve that back and forth with the way the lines flow, making a statement and then contradicting the statement. With how authoritative the voice sounds, it feels like this code for action should be spoken in front of artists at some rally or used as a Ten Commandments for writers.


  2. Superbly written contradictions. Very tight insight. Well liked familiarity. Do it yourself. Do it right. Don’t follow others. They’re all lost. Truest of any truth. Blaze your own path. With a smile. Let it rip. Dive in the deep end. Run in the shallow end. Great perspective Ali!


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