By Michael Dowdy
Dowdy uncovers and analyzes the first rhetorical techniques, fairly figures of voice, in American political poetry from the Vietnam battle 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)
Baker’s understanding of poetry as “disruptive performance” and as a “sounding space of opposition” also opens up space for hip-hop lyrics to be read as poems. Poetry, for Baker, is an “alternative space of the conditional,” a notion important in many formulations of political poetry (94–96), especially in the ways that poems can create imaginary visions of justice and injustice. Mark Costello and David Foster Wallace, too, claim that hip-hop is “serious poetry” and that it was the first music to begin creative work on the “threat of economic inequality to American ideals” (98–100).
They were like / dried EMBODIED AGENCY 39 peach halves. There is no other way to say this ” (16; my emphasis). Here, the speaker-poet recounts her experience in the past tense verbs typically used to describe past events; however, the speaker then enters the poem in the present to highlight the event of retelling. As a result, the poet is doubly present—as the person in the poem and as the person writing the poem. As Joann Gardner writes, the “journalistic matter-of-factness of Forché’s style acknowledges the primacy of event over verbalization” (412).
Drawing from Henri Bergson, he claims that “perceptions are possible actions” (91), just as poems as perceptions, I argue, 40 AMERICAN POLITICAL POETRY represent possible worlds, actions, and communities. In the above poems, perceptions of experience reinvest past actions with new imaginative possibility even as the poems themselves become new actions.
American Political Poetry into the 21st Century (American Literature Readings in the Twenty-First Century) by Michael Dowdy