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Situating Poetry

Covenant and Genre in American Modernism

Joshua Logan Wall

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A retelling of American modernism through the lines of solidarity and division within and among ethnic and religious identities found in poetry.

What happens if we approach the reading and writing of poetry not as an individual act, but as a public one? Answering this question challenges common assumptions about modern poetry and requires that we explore the important questions that define genre: Where is this poem situated, and how did it get there?

Joshua Logan Wall's Situating Poetry studies five poets of the New York literary scene rarely considered together: James Weldon Johnson, Charles…

A retelling of American modernism through the lines of solidarity and division within and among ethnic and religious identities found in poetry.

What happens if we approach the reading and writing of poetry not as an individual act, but as a public one? Answering this question challenges common assumptions about modern poetry and requires that we explore the important questions that define genre: Where is this poem situated, and how did it get there?

Joshua Logan Wall's Situating Poetry studies five poets of the New York literary scene rarely considered together: James Weldon Johnson, Charles Reznikoff, Lola Ridge, Louis Zukofsky, and Robert Hayden. Charting their works and careers from 1910–1940, Wall illustrates how these politically marginalized writers from drastically different religious backgrounds wrestled with their status as American outsiders. These poets produced a secularized version of America in which poetry, rather than God, governed individual obligations to one another across multiethnic barriers.

Adopting a multiethnic and pluralist approach, Wall argues that each of these poets—two Black, two Jewish, and one Irish-American anarchist—shares a desire to create more truly democratic communities through art and through the covenantal publics created by their poems despite otherwise sitting uncomfortably, at best, within a more standard literary history. In this unique account of American modernist poetics, religious pluralism creates a lens through which to consider the bounds of solidarity and division within and among ethnic identities and their corresponding literatures.

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Situating Poetry

Joshua Logan Wall

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Reviews

Reviews

Wall balances a deep interest in form with an attentiveness to modes of poetic circulation, suggesting that an American covenantal public is created in part by recognizing its inability to live up to its promises. Situating Poetry is an elegant and incisive piece of criticism and a pleasure to read.

Situating Poetry offers a strikingly innovative approach to subjects all too often set apart. Focusing on an imaginatively curated group of poets from different ethnic, religious and racial backgrounds, Wall's deft interdisciplinary study seeks new narratives about multi-ethnic American modernism, religion and, above all, poetry. Situating Poetry is sure to inspire new ways of thinking about and literary history.

About

Book Details

Release Date
Publication Date
Status
Preorder
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
248
ISBN
9781421443799
Illustration Description
16 b&w photos
Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction
Part I: Covenantal Spaces
Chapter 1. A Congregation of Readers: James Weldon Johnson's God's Trombones
Chapter 2. Renewing the Covenant: Charles Reznikoff's Recitative
Part II

Acknowledgments
Introduction
Part I: Covenantal Spaces
Chapter 1. A Congregation of Readers: James Weldon Johnson's God's Trombones
Chapter 2. Renewing the Covenant: Charles Reznikoff's Recitative
Part II: Circulating Modernism
Chapter 3. Immigrant Publics: Lola Ridge On and Off the Page
Chapter 4. Louis Zukofsky and the Poetics of Exodus
Part III: Limit Cases
Chapter 5. A Covenantal Limit Case: Robert Hayden Beyond the Lyric
Coda: The House We Build Together
Notes
Index

Author Bio