By Michael Dowdy
Dowdy uncovers and analyzes the first rhetorical options, relatively figures of voice, in American political poetry from the Vietnam struggle period to the current.
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Extra resources for American Political Poetry into the 21st Century (American Literature Readings in the Twenty-First Century)
This indirection can lead to a ghostly sense of absence in many poems. These poems, moreover, often articulate utopian or dystopian visions that depart from identifiable contexts, speakers, and human presence, thereby asserting the primary agency of the imagination. These poems suggest that persuasion and the representation of realistic lived experience are unnecessary for political poetry, while their eerie, parodic, and prophetic voices are able to make more global claims than poems of experience can.
I return to this primarily Latin American form in chapter 3, but for now I want to make clear that the poems of chapter 1 are not testimonios. The testimonio, for the poems in this chapter, helps outline the importance of narrative, a first-person speaker, experience, and collective struggle. Beverley notes that testimonio “is not so much concerned with the life of a ‘problematic hero,’ ” but “with a problematic social situation that the narrator lives with or alongside others” (27). His point suggests a movement away from the speakerpoet’s experience as an end unto itself and toward the collective context for that experience.
How Poetry” 21–27). 13 Poetry as action can be both creative and referential action; in Komunyakaa’s words, poems can call potential future actions into existence. Therefore, they make conceivable in language what is difficult to achieve in the “real” world; they show us not what is, but what could be or might have been, through images of justice, peace, community, 22 AMERICAN POLITICAL POETRY and progressive change. They also expose what in the larger world is often concealed in the discourses of “progress” and “freedom,” the first concept of which I discuss in relation to several poems in this book.
American Political Poetry into the 21st Century (American Literature Readings in the Twenty-First Century) by Michael Dowdy