Louis Zukofsky's epic poem, A , is typically regarded as either a modernist collage poem or a postmodern poem that problematizes that view. This essay considers these interpretive paradigms as it elucidates the work's "Kentucky" theme. Zukofsky visited Kentucky in 1963 and subsequently alluded to the state in A 14 and A 18. Allusions to Kentucky emphasize Appalachian culture and economic deprivation. The poem presents Chester Cornett (an eastern Kentucky chairmaker whose nonutilitarian approach to craft caused him to be considered more of an artist than a craftsman) as an example of the validity of Marx's economic theory and Spinoza's ethical philosophy. In the end, the poem's assertion of totalizing views of history mark it as modern, while its complementary vision of aspects that such theories leave out mark it as postmodern.


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pp. 71-88
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