History, Memory, and the Literary Left
Modern American Poetry, 1935-1968
Publication Year: 2006
Published by: University of Iowa Press
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1. The Janitor’s Poems of Every Day: American Poetry and the 1930s
Perhaps the best-known American poem about waste since The Waste Land, Wallace Stevens’s “The Man on the Dump” represents the dump as a site of ruin and recovery, of imagistic refuse and linguistic transformation, a site in which even the detritus of a collapsed capitalist economy can be converted into poetry. Stevens’s dump appears...
2. Buried History: The Popular Front Poetics of Muriel Rukeyser’s The Book of the Dead
As Adrienne Rich’s “An Atlas of the Difficult World” (1991) suggests, Muriel Rukeyser’s work as “poet journalist pioneer mother” (Rich 150) has not been forgotten. Since the late 1960s, Rukeyser has been celebrated as an iconoclastic “pioneer mother” of contemporary feminist poetry, and her work as an activist “poet journalist,” from...
3. Allegories of Salvage: The Peripheral Vision of Elizabeth Bishop’s North & South
At the end of the same year in which Muriel Rukeyser drove to West Virginia to investigate Gauley Bridge (1936), her former Vassar classmate Elizabeth Bishop traveled for the first time to what is now the southernmost end of U.S. 1, Key West, Florida. Key West would...
4. Harlem Disc-tortions: The Jazz Memory of Langston Hughes’s Montage of a Dream Deferred
Langston Hughes’s 1951 montage of “contemporary Harlem” concludes with a motif that recurs throughout the poem and throughout his career: “Dream within a dream/Our dream deferred” (Collected Poems 421).1 Hughes locates this African American...
5. A Reportage and Redemption: The Poetics of African American Countermemory in Gwendolyn Brooks’s In the Mecca
Only months before the publication of Langston Hughes’s Montage of a Dream Deferred, Harper’s magazine published a lengthy article by John Bartlow Martin on “one of the most remarkable Negro slum exhibits in the world” (87), the Mecca Building on Chicago’s South...
6. A Metamorphic Palimpsest: The Underground Memory of Thomas McGrath’s Letter to an Imaginary Friend
This trope of the poet’s underground vision is at once geological, archaeological, and mythic. It crystallizes the stratified sites of memory that structure McGrath’s long poem: from the Dakotas to Louisiana, from “the coiling Kennebec River” in Maine to “War and the City"...
7. The Spectre of the 1930s: George Oppen’s Of Being Numerous and Historical Amnesia
In 1958 George Oppen completed his first poem since the publication of his first and then only published volume of poems, Discrete Series (1934). This poem, which was originally entitled “To Date” and...
Page Count: 303
Publication Year: 2006
OCLC Number: 658122105
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