Abstract

Abstract:

In 1939, the radio-dramatist Norman Corwin broadcast two poems by Sterling Brown on a special episode of CBS's Words Without Music dedicated to "Negro poetry." The circumstances of Corwin's radio adaptation reveal a specific dimension of Brown's achievement as a poet of black dialect that is difficult to apprehend on the printed page: the poetry's own constitutive relation to the media-ecological conditions of its making. Brown's poems can be said to resist the exclusionary terms of midcentury network broadcasting precisely insofar as they bear the latent traces of prior encounters with mass media. Formulated with regard to Brown and Corwin, the concept of latent remediation offers a means of grasping how a technologized soundscape can materially transform the formal protocols even of poems never destined for the airwaves.

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