This brief introduction to Charles Bernstein's work, given in Hangzhou, China, in November 2019, on the occasion of Bernstein's Distinguished Lectureship, discusses the basic principles of Language poetics as put forward in the early books Content's Dream and A Poetics. From the first, Bernstein emphasized the idea that poetry is not the expression of feeling but a constructivist art in which language is taken out of its normal context and recharged. In “Artifice of Absorption,” Bernstein insists that the poet uses all the tools at his command to create a new kind of absorption, arresting the reader's attention. Difficulty is thus inherent to poetry—a difficulty challenging the reader to rise to the challenge of what it means to read poetry. A few examples like “Standing Target” are discussed briefly.

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