guest-edited by Kevin Mcpherson Eckhoff and Jake Kennedy

... to divest one's church of every useless cumbersome accessory; to spit out disagreeable or amorous ideas like a luminous waterfall, or coddle them -- with the extreme satisfaction that it doesn't matter in the least -- with the same intensity in the thicket of one's soul -- pure of insects for blood well-born, and gilded with bodies of archangels. Tristan Tzara, Dadaist Manifesto

Historically, avant-garde practices have clasped hands with spiritual belief. For instance, remember Kandinsky and Mondrian with Theosophy, Hélène Smith channeling automatic writing, H.D.'s devotion to mysticism, Jackson Mac Low chancing chants, John Cage divining the I Ching, Eugene Gomringer's "spiritual use" of concrete poetry and Charles Olson projecting verse as numinous. Over the past few decades, this spirit of experimental writing seems to have departed. And yet, consider Rachel Zolf's Human Resources as possessed by Hebrew numerology, Jonathan Ball's Ex Machina as Deus itself, Marie Annharte Baker's language as/of the power of indigenous healing circles and M. NourbeSe Philip's Zong! as spiritual-medium. This special issue of Open Letter aims to perform exegesis on today's avant-garde writing. How does it commune with notions of mysticism? Who is exorcizing poetry? Can "god/God/gods" be invoked non-ironically? Is spiritualism or the sacred in the 21st century nostalgically more arrière-garde than avant-garde? The editors seek submissions of essays on such ideas as

* Language as a numinous

* Poetries that super the natural

* 'Devotions' to/of/in avant-garde versus arrière-garde

* Aleatory practices as faith/deity

* Indigenous beliefs/practices in/of (w)riting

* Reading for/as exegesis

* Glossolalia and sound poetry

* Séance or say-haunts or (un)science

* Concrete poetry and "spiritual use"

* Postmodern ethics or responsibilities to the soul

* Theory as a/version of/to theology

* Gender, identity and spirituality

Please send proposals, suggestions, complaints, corrections, inspirations (300-500 words) by June 30, 2012 to either Kevin McPherson Eckhoff or Jake Kennedy . Authors who have their proposals accepted will need to complete their final papers by October 31, 2012.

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1965-2012 Open Letter