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  Acmeism (from Greek akme, ‘point’) was a movement in Russian poetry of the 1920s led by the writers Nikolai Gumilev and Sergei Gorodetsky, and followed by Anna Akhmatova and Osip Mandelstam. Their aim was to write about everyday phenomena, and to use words and images for their primary, stripped-down meanings, without metaphor, clogged syntax or other forms of ‘poeticizing’. The acmeists were particularly opposed to the mysticism and erotic suggestiveness of symbolist writing, and to the experiments of Mayakovsky and the Surrealists. The idea of cleansing language, of using words for words\' sake alone, has been a recurring feature of poetry, not least in the 20th century (for example in the work of T.S. Eliot and William Carlos Williams); but the acmeists, in a way characteristic of artists in the 1910s, were the only ones to give it a name and a specific agenda. They published a magazine, Apollo, from 1909-17, and were denounced by the authorities as decadent and ‘individualist’: socialism demanded realism of a rather different kind. KMcL

See also socialist realism.



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