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The Alphabet is a remarkable and notorious literary achievement, decades in the making, one continually debated, discussed, and imitated since fragments of it first appeared in the 1970s. Consisting of twenty-six smaller books, one for each letter of the alphabet, it employs language in ways that are startling and innovative. Over the course of the three decades during which it has appeared - in journals, magazines, and as stand-alone volumes - its influence has been wide-ranging, both on practicing poets and on critics who have had to contend with the way it has changed the direction of American poetry.Ron Silliman, a founder of the language poetry movement in the 1960s and one of its most dedicated and acclaimed practitioners, has deployed in The Alphabet the full range of formal and linguistic experiments for which he is known. The Alphabet is a work of American ethnography, a cultural collage of artifacts, moments, episodes, and voices - historical and private - that capture the dizzying evolution of America's social, cultural, and literary consciousness.