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Poetry And The Public
     

Poetry And The Public

by Joseph Harrington
 
Since Romanticism, poetry has reigned as the most exalted of literary forms; consequently, as Joseph Harrington argues in this new study, public debates about the nature and function of poetry are really debates about larger cultural and political values. In Poetry and the Public, Harrington sheds new light on changes in the textual form of poems, the critical

Overview

Since Romanticism, poetry has reigned as the most exalted of literary forms; consequently, as Joseph Harrington argues in this new study, public debates about the nature and function of poetry are really debates about larger cultural and political values. In Poetry and the Public, Harrington sheds new light on changes in the textual form of poems, the critical reception of poems, debates in the popular press about the nature of poetry and the poetic theories of poets.

The period 1910-1940 represents a major transition in the social meaning of poetry in the U.S. Harrington focuses on three important factions of the US poetry scene during these years. The first, popularizers, wished to retain the older, popular notion of poetry as a public art, a communal experience shared between writer and readers. The second, high modernists, responded with the well-known notions of the self-sufficient art object and the autonomous artist who held no responsibility to a reading public or public affairs. The third group, poets of the radical labor movement of the 1910s, combined aspects of both popular and modernist poetries in order to intervene in specific historical settings or to interact with specific audiences.

Poetry and the Public shows how this more public tendency in poetry evolved into the latter half of the 20th century in forms such as poetry slams and community-based workshops, and how the history of poetry can help us understand the genre's relative absence from histories of American literature.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“...there’s a certain genius-a literary genius, that is-in the metaphor Harrington constructs. ...Things Come On might be regarded as one long metaphysical poem-a postmodern metaphysical epic, maybe.”—Aaron Belz, On the Seawall

“While the summertime shuttering of Borders might have given readers a sense that books are in diminuendo, American poets chorused powerfully for one of their best years. Midwesterners showed especially strongly with worthy entries from Rodney Jones, Carl Phillips, Devin Johnston, Joseph Harrington, Tony Trigilio and many others.”—James Henderson, St. Louis Times Dispatch

Publishers Weekly
It's not the penetrating but expected chapters on Alan Tate and Wallace Stevens, that make Poetry and the Public: The Social Form of Modern U.S. Poetics one of the most compelling books on modernism published this year. What stands out are the resuscitations and excellent discussions of "Publicity, Sabotage, and Arturo Giovannitti's `Poetry of Syndicalism'" and "Poetry as Crossing: The Newspaper Verse of Anise (Anna Louise Strong)," the latter as fierce as it is Wobbly. Anyone who has reveled in the mix of high and low verse in the Library of America's American Poetry: The Twentieth Century anthology will find University of Kansas English professor Joseph Harrington's account a confirmation of extraordinary possibilities for public poetry, even given the closing chapter on 1990s academicism.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780819565389
Publisher:
Wesleyan University Press
Publication date:
06/01/2002
Pages:
224
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.55(d)

What People are Saying About This

Alan Golding
"Poetry and the Public is a welcome addition to a growing but still small body of revisionist studies of 20th century poetics that employ some version of New Historicist and cultural studies methods to make new areas of poetic activity, beyond the received high modernist canon, available for critical scrutiny.”
Maria Damon
"Poetry and the Public brings poetry and a historically informed American studies into productive dialogue to show that poetry has played as significant a role in shaping national identity and public culture as any other literary or textual art."

Meet the Author

JOSEPH HARRINGTON is a professor of English at the University of Kansas.

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