By Clemens Spahr
Tackling subject matters resembling globalization and political activism, this ebook strains engaged poetics in twentieth century American poetry. Spahr offers a entire view of activist poetry, beginning with the good melancholy and the Harlem Renaissance and relocating to the Beats and modern writers comparable to Amiri Baraka and Mark Nowak.
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Extra info for A Poetics of Global Solidarity: Modern American Poetry and Social Movements
It might seem that in the 1930s, when the Left discussed the necessity of social realism and often adhered to a form of cultural nationalism, the Dynamo poets’ internationalist modernism and Rolfe’s Romantic lyricism would have been rejected as the lingering residual of bourgeois ideology. Indeed, in his 1936 review of To My Contemporaries, Freeman complains that very often for the Popular Front, “the politics of literature were permitted, thoughtlessly, to triumph over that objectivity of vision which is the essence of true poetry” (25).
26 ● A Poetics of Global Solidarity Giovannitti’s poetic production after Arrows in the Gale has received little critical attention, even though these poems were widely published and noted. In “May Day in Moscow,” printed in The Liberator in 1921 and placed prominently in the center of a page by its editor Max Eastman, Giovannitti offers a politicized variety of Imagism when he celebrates “Red flags licking like flames the fold of the great dome” (“May Day in Moscow” 7). The more predictable celebration of the Russian revolution in poems such as these is accompanied by a celebration of women activists in many of Giovannitti’s other poems.
When in “Homage to Karl Marx” Rolfe imagines Marx drafting his theoretical works, he speaks of Marx’s “cumulative fatherland” that is the result of “the huge sweeping movement of his brain/ (rooted in poverty, love as great as deep as he was poor)” (Collected Poems 77). But if Marx is the theoretician of material conditions, he is also “the prophet grappling with worlds,/ suspended between/ yet rooted in both/ the old and the new” (77). This is a poetic portrait of the political thinker Marx, but it is also a selfportrait of the poet Edwin Rolfe and a reflection on the modern poet’s vocation to establish alternatives to the capitalist and nationalist ideologies shaping the 1930s.
A Poetics of Global Solidarity: Modern American Poetry and Social Movements by Clemens Spahr