By Clemens Spahr
Tackling themes resembling globalization and political activism, this ebook lines engaged poetics in twentieth century American poetry. Spahr offers a complete view of activist poetry, beginning with the nice melancholy and the Harlem Renaissance and relocating to the Beats and modern writers resembling Amiri Baraka and Mark Nowak.
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Additional info for A Poetics of Global Solidarity: Modern American Poetry and Social Movements
14). For Giovannitti, the vision of an egalitarian cosmopolis is a realistic option in the present; the harbor is a material space that can absorb the immigrants’ hopes. If the various “Blazing Signals of a World in Birth” ● 31 international workers unite as they did in the Lawrence textile strike, New York will become an egalitarian cosmopolis. Giovannitti transposes the people’s creative power into a more distinct celebration of the American working class in his Whitmanesque free verse poem, “‘O Labor of America: Heartbeat of Mankind,’” probably published around 1918, where the people are shown as a poeitic force: labor perpetually re-creates America much like blood circulation maintains the functions of the human body.
Their poetic strategy bears a family resemblance to the political act of sabotage that the IWW advocated at the time. In the preface to his English translation of Emile Pouget’s Sabotage (1913), Giovannitti defines political sabotage as “[a]ny skillful operation on the machinery of production intended not to destroy it or permanently render it defective, but only to temporarily disable it ” (Introduction 14), a strategy whose “sole aim is to benefit the working class” (21). Just as sabotage is “not meant as a perpetual clogging of the workings of industry” (22), literary sabotage is not an attempt to reject literary tradition and form in the name of agitprop, or to simply show that poetic form is ideologically determined and therefore creates a false consciousness.
The man remains anonymous, his features vague. The poem thus captures the representativeness of his fate. Rolfe encourages the reader to accept the idea that the cyclical economic crises that result from global capitalism (the seasons of death) will only beget more corpses. While the public poet Giovannitti celebrated a working-class solidarity that constituted itself through the socioeconomic contradictions of the 1910s, Rolfe more carefully puts the tragic stories of the Great Depression on display through an irritating, unsettling imagery in order to draw the reader’s attention to the fact that the Great Depression was not an aberrant episode in the history of global capitalism, but its logical, periodically recurring result.
A Poetics of Global Solidarity: Modern American Poetry and Social Movements by Clemens Spahr