By G. Matthew Jenkins

ISBN-10: 1587296357

ISBN-13: 9781587296352

ISBN-10: 1587297280

ISBN-13: 9781587297281

Since no less than the time of Plato’s Republic, the connection among poetry and ethics has been afflicted. during the prism of what has been referred to as the “new” moral feedback, encouraged by way of the paintings of Emmanuel Levinas, G. Matthew Jenkins considers the works of Objectivists, Black Mountain poets, and Language poets in gentle in their complete power to reshape this historical relationship.

American experimental poetry is mostly learn in both political or ethical phrases. Poetic Obligation, in contrast, considers the poems of Louis Zukofsky, Charles Reznikoff, George Oppen, Edward Dorn, Robert Duncan, Susan Howe, and Lyn Hejinian by way of the philosophical inspiration of moral legal responsibility to the opposite in language. Jenkins's old trajectory permits him to think about the entire breadth of moral themes that experience pushed theoretical debate because the finish of worldwide warfare II. This unique strategy establishes a moral lineage within the works of twentieth-century experimental poets, making a strategy to reconcile the breach among poetry and the difficulty of ethics in literature at large.

With implications for a bunch of social matters, together with ethnicity and immigration, financial inequities, and human rights, Jenkins's ingenious reconciliation of poetry and ethics will offer stimulating studying for lecturers and students of yank literature in addition to advocates and devotees of poetry in most cases. Poetic Obligation marshals plentiful proof that poetry concerns and maintains to talk to the $64000 problems with our day.

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Additional info for Poetic obligation : ethics in experimental American poetry after 1945

Sample text

When the workings of such naturalized discourses are demystified, they believe, then they may be changed and redirected. In the context of these women writers—who accept the arbitrary relationship between language and determinations of sex but do not want to deny their sexed being—this redirection is what I call sexual alterity to refer to the “transcendence” of gender, as the exposing of social norms once thought in natural and essential relation to sex. As these poets show us, we are not determined by traditional understandings of our bodies.

Thought must be suspended for enjoyment or, as Oppen calls it 30 pa rt 1 in Of Being Numerous, “the pure joy / Of the mineral fact” (New Collected 164). In other words, desire for another displaces and disturbs totality. In this 1930s manifestation, the concept of desire works against totality at the same time it seeks it, and this is the crack, so to speak, through which alterity seeps. This desire—both motivation for seeking totality to begin with and simultaneously the impetus to move beyond totality—is inseparable from the very foundation of Zukofsky’s sincerity and objectification.

There is change In an air That smells stale, they will come to the end Of an era First of all peoples And one may honorably keep His distance If he can. (New Collected 170– 71) Even in the middle of this indictment, the form of the poem suggests complicity on Oppen’s part, which prevents the poem from being purely judgmental. Oppen is himself one of those who is “unable to begin at the beginning”; and he too is one of the “fortunate” whom he is indicting.

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Poetic obligation : ethics in experimental American poetry after 1945 by G. Matthew Jenkins


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