Teaching the Political Poem

I'm going to be teaching a workshop on the political poem at the University of Minnesota's Split Rock Arts Program this summer. As I prepare, I've become aware of a presumption in my own thinking that a radical poetics equals a radical politics, but this is clearly not the case. Teasing out the relationship between poetics and politics is not nearly so simple as one might wish. To be honest, I've often thought of the New Formalists as a group of conservative poets, with the word conservative covering both their poetics and their politics, but that's not a fair assessment of the range of political positions espoused by members of the group. Conversely, I've pretty often thought of the Language poets and their progeny as leftists and I think most of them are, but there is no necessary connection between the poetics of this group and their liberal or radical politics.

Author: jd

Joseph Duemer is Professor of Literature Emeritus at Clarkson University in northern New York state. His most recent book of poems is Magical Thinking from Ohio State University Press. Since the mid-1990s he has spent a good deal of time in Vietnam, mostly Hanoi. He lives with his wife Carole & five terriers (four Jack Russells & one Patterdale) on the stony bank of the Raquette River in South Colton.

1 thought on “Teaching the Political Poem”

  1. I’ve grown old hearing abt the distinctions between the “occasional” poems and the “necessary” poems and that political and war poems were OCCASIONAL. (“The Naming of Parts” and “Soldiers Bathing” seemed none of the above. I love them. Like i do that day-of-the-locusts author’s short story abt a civil war hanging that seems like a lyric ending narration with a snap.
    Most of my challenges were spelling and notation.
    I find difficulty differentiating proprieties.
    Can’t care anymore what isn’t poetry. Or is.

    Edward Mycue

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