A Poetics of Global Solidarity: Modern American Poetry and by Clemens Spahr

By Clemens Spahr

Tackling issues akin to globalization and political activism, this booklet strains engaged poetics in twentieth century American poetry. Spahr offers a accomplished view of activist poetry, beginning with the good melancholy and the Harlem Renaissance and relocating to the Beats and modern writers akin to Amiri Baraka and Mark Nowak.

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Nelson 210), while five years later Poetry ’s influential editor Harriet Monroe (1860–1936) called “The Walker” “a formidable arraignment” (152). Giovannitti’s contemporaries generally counted him among the “poets of the modern,” as an English reviewer of Arrows in the Gale put it (Alford 411). 26 ● A Poetics of Global Solidarity Giovannitti’s poetic production after Arrows in the Gale has received little critical attention, even though these poems were widely published and noted. In “May Day in Moscow,” printed in The Liberator in 1921 and placed prominently in the center of a page by its editor Max Eastman, Giovannitti offers a politicized variety of Imagism when he celebrates “Red flags licking like flames the fold of the great dome” (“May Day in Moscow” 7).

Giovannitti and Hill manipulate available modes of representation in order to enable a global poetic subjectivity from the contradictions of global capitalism and its geoculture. 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).

In this chapter, I trace the anti-imperialist poetic imagination of the 1960s that emerged in the context of two major global political events: the Cuban Revolution and the Vietnam War. Both of these events sparked an anti-imperialist and often anticapitalist political poetry. Even before Vietnam, Cuba invited the global poetic imagination of American radicals to consider alternatives to a consumerist Western world and to global capitalism. All of the poets and lyricists discussed in this chapter, from Bob Dylan to Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Allen Ginsberg, and Denise Levertov, were involved in the social movements of the 1960s.

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