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Poetry and the Public
The Social Form of Modern U.S. Poetics
Joseph Harrington

2002 • 224 pp. 5 illus. 6 x 9"
Poetry Criticism

$24.95 Paperback, 978-0-8195-6538-9

“...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

An informative account of the social meaning of poetry in the 20th century US.

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.

Click here for TABLE OF CONTENTS

Reviews / Endorsements

“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

"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.”Alan Golding, author of From Outlaw to Classic: Canons in American Poetry

"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."Maria Damon, author of The Dark End of the Street

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

Click here for author's website.

Mon, 18 Jun 2018 11:52:28 -0500