By Michael Dowdy
Dowdy uncovers and analyzes the first rhetorical recommendations, relatively figures of voice, in American political poetry from the Vietnam conflict period to the current.
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Additional resources for American Political Poetry into the 21st Century (American Literature Readings in the Twenty-First Century)
Authoritative poetry, whether of Rich’s variety or like that which came out of the Black Arts Movement and the Chicano Movement, does not necessarily rely on empirical experience, events, happenings, or referents, which is not to imply that the poetry of experiential agency relies exclusively on a staunch model of factual history. As Goodman says in her discussion of a Harjo poem, “poetic evidence” is the only type of validation necessary for political poetry (45). Finally, authoritative agency often circumvents the usual channels of compromise and negotiation in social and political space, a strategy that has provoked the sensibilities of many critics, one of whom I write about briefly in this section of chapter 1.
My understanding of experience, moreover, is influenced greatly by the Latin American testimonio and its scholars. I say more about the testimonio in chapter 1, but here I want to make two points about experience. George Yúdice argues that testimonial writing “promotes expression of personal experience” that is through and through a “collective experience of struggle against oppression” (54; original emphasis). Many poems I analyze suggest that the speaker-poet’s experiences are part of a larger community’s experience of the world.
Literature. The primary source of agency in these poems is the multilingual and multicultural voice and the ways that it crosses a variety of borders between nations and between English- and Spanish-speaking cultures. Poems of migratory agency thus have bilingual textures that challenge English’s position as the approved language for poetic, social, and political expression in the United States. In these poems language comprises a contestatory public sphere redolent with political ramifications.
American Political Poetry into the 21st Century (American Literature Readings in the Twenty-First Century) by Michael Dowdy