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From the Publisher"Recommended."—Choice
"A brilliant resource."—Rain Taxi
This volume is the first of its kind to collect classic and contemporary work focused on the intersection of poetry and cultural studies, reaching from Wordsworth's "Preface to Lyrical Ballads" and W. E. B. Du Bois's "Of the Sorrow Songs" to present-day essays on rap lyrics, queer poetry, folk poetry, and beyond. The writings also acknowledge the major contributions of both the Frankfurt School and the Birmingham School's contributions toward broadening the field of artifacts permissible for serious study with the primarily literary tools of close reading of textual/textural detail. Rethinking notions of poetic experiences and their roles in popular or mass culture, these essays effectively speak to students, academics, poetry enthusiasts, and those interested in social movements, including slammers, academics, workshop leaders, and poetry theorists.
"A brilliant resource."—Rain Taxi
Posted July 24, 2010
First off, an admission: I have not yet "completed" this title. I've read through all of it, but it's a book more designed for study than for simply reading. It has an almost textbook style to it and I've got so much out of it I don't intend to shelve it and move on. I want to continue going through the chapters as the concept of combining poetry with cultural studies is much deeper than one would expect.
For example, in high school and college a certain amount of poetry is covered in English, but admitting you like poetry at that age is akin to outing your inner nerd. Only a few could get away with it and still be cool (Keith, AG, Class of '84: you did it.you were still the coolest!). Then, as we age, reading or writing poetry is often a way that some identify a snob or someone with too much time on their hands. If you say that you are writing a book, you can maintain some respect and a bit of eccentricity. Say that you are writing a poem and you get looked at askance, at least in my corner of the world.
Then there's the problem of identifying "quality" poetry: there's an attitude about high-brow poems that if you have to ask what it means, you are surely too dense to get it anyway (and I freely admit I am too dense to get some of the more abstract types). Some of the more famous poets get written off as if, by becoming commercially successful, they're less important. Then there's a few of the edgier poets whose content is so filled with obscenities and graphic depictions that you simply end up confused at their purpose (one title, which shall remain nameless, was sent to me to review, and every single poem had a penis somewhere in the verse, I kid you not!). The variety of work is incredible as are the techniques, and I freely admit to enjoying most of it. Billy Collins, Kay Ryan, Scott Wannberg, Alex Boyd, Richard Wilbur, and Susan Rich are some of my favorites. Manolis is new to me and I'm enjoying his work is well.
That's where this title, Poetry and Cultural Studies: A Reader comes into play. The premise is simple: culture creates a poetic voice, and varying cultures generate different styles, subjects, and emotional responses. The most obvious reference is to rap music lyrics, and how the culture of black society in the US created this form of expression. However, editors Maria Damon and Ira Livingston did a far more thorough study. For example, Nicaragua is discussed in Bruce Campbell's essay "Assembly Poetics in the Global Economy", and he relays how the culture there actually promotes poetic expression: "The Sandinista revolution (1979-90) distinguished Nicaragua as the first nation for which poetry and sweeping social, economic, and political change were closely identified. There were poetry workshops designed to create readers and writes of poetry.Famously, 'a nation of poets' was declared, pronounced, spoken, read into being in the 1980s." He goes on to show how even after the Sandinistas no longer were in charge (during their leadership literacy rates increased dramatically), poetry is commonly found in newspapers and is a constant feature of Nicaraguan life. He goes on to explain the signs and convergence of globalization on regional poetry.
Are there complications to the advance of poetry in a literate society? Trinh T. Minh-ha points out in the essay, "Poetry and Anthropology", that "poetic language could therefore be a process that destabilizes institutionalized ways of writing,&am