By Clemens Spahr
Tackling subject matters corresponding to globalization and political activism, this publication lines engaged poetics in twentieth century American poetry. Spahr offers a accomplished view of activist poetry, beginning with the nice melancholy and the Harlem Renaissance and relocating to the Beats and modern writers reminiscent of Amiri Baraka and Mark Nowak.
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Additional resources for A Poetics of Global Solidarity: Modern American Poetry and Social Movements
The city’s inhabitants are “Human machines actioned by hope and ambition” (2) whose routine is determined by the city’s socioeconomic structures. At the same time, their machine-like actions are fuelled by human aspiration that transcends this routinized practice. Giovannitti’s sociopolitical vision of modernity is more affirmative than Eliot’s in the sense that he believes in the possibility of a collective subjectivity to rise not from but with and through the city. Instead of dissolving the speaker in the ungraspable, hostile social reality of the metropolis, and instead of simply celebrating modernity’s supposed progress (as Marinetti did), the poem rewrites the speaker into a collective poetic subjectivity that can only be realized through an engagement of the city’s material structures.
Gabaccia 81–105). In addition to this class-based cosmopolitanism, Giovannitti arrived in the United States equipped with a profound grasp of Western culture, with Renaissance and biblical imagery forming constant reference points in his poetry. 3 But Giovannitti’s reputation was established when he became a successful labor organizer. The few important scholarly accounts that analyze Giovannitti’s writings have consequently focused primarily on his autobiographical poems. Indeed, large parts of Giovannitti’s first collection of poetry, Arrows in the Gale (1914), were written while he was imprisoned after the Lawrence textile strike and cannot be understood apart from his personal and political situations.
From the time of what John P. Diggins has called the “Lyrical Left” (Diggins 93–144; cf. Wetzsteon 1–91) to the time of the Popular Front in the 1930s—the coalition of Communists, socialists, and New Deal progressives that was united in its antifascism and its interest in the arts as an educational tool—engaged writers tied poetry to political activism and frequently used it as a means of mass mobilization. The works of Arturo Giovannitti, Edwin Rolfe (1909–1954), and Muriel Rukeyser (1913–1980) exemplify this intersection of poetic expression and political activism.
A Poetics of Global Solidarity: Modern American Poetry and Social Movements by Clemens Spahr