Attention Equals Life examines why a quest to pay attention to daily life has increasingly become a central feature of both contemporary American poetry and the wider culture of which it is a part. Drawing on theories and debates about the nature of everyday life from a number of fields across the humanities, this book traces the modern history of this preoccupation and consider why it is so much with us today. Attention Equals Life argues that it is no coincidence that a potent hunger for everyday life explodes in the post-1945 period. This deep cultural need should be seen as a reaction to the rapid and dislocating cultural, political, and social transformations of this epoch, which have resulted in a culture of perilous distraction, interruption, and fragmented attention. The book argues that poetry is an important, and perhaps unlikely, cultural form that has mounted a response, and even method of resistance, to a culture gradually losing its capacity to pay attention.
It examines why a compulsion to represent the everyday becomes predominant in the decades after modernism, why it has so often led to unusual, challenging projects and formal innovation, and why poetry, in particular, might be an everyday-life genre par excellence. The book considers the variety of forms this preoccupation takes, and examines its aesthetic, philosophical, and political ramifications. By exploring the use of innovative strategies, unusual projects, and new technologies as methods of attending to dailiness, Attention Equals Life uncovers an important strain at the heart of twentieth and twenty-first century literature.