Behind the lines: war resistance poetry on the American by Philip Metres

By Philip Metres

Even if Thersites in Homer’s Iliad, Wilfred Owen in “Dulce et Decorum Est,” or Allen Ginsberg in “Wichita Vortex Sutra,” poets have lengthy given solitary voice opposed to the brutality of struggle. The hasty cancellation of the 2003 White apartment symposium “Poetry and the yank Voice” within the face of protests by way of Sam Hamill and different invited visitors opposed to the arriving “shock and awe” crusade in Iraq reminded us that poetry and poets nonetheless have the ability to problem the robust.     at the back of the strains investigates American struggle resistance poetry from the second one international struggle during the Iraq wars. instead of easily chronicling the style, Philip Metres argues that this poetry will get to the center of who's licensed to discuss battle and the way it may be represented. As such, he explores a principally overlooked quarter of scholarship: the poet’s courting to dissenting political activities and the country.     In his stylish examine, Metres examines the ways that battle resistance is registered not just by way of its content material but in addition on the point of the lyric. He proposes that protest poetry constitutes a subgenre that—by advantage of its preoccupation with politics, heritage, and trauma—probes the boundaries of yankee lyric poetry. hence, warfare resistance poetry—and the position of what Shelley calls unacknowledged legislators—is a vital, although mostly unexamined, physique of writing that stands on the middle of dissident political hobbies.

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In chapter 7, I consider June Jordan’s contribution to bridging African American struggle and war resistance, emerging out of the Black Arts and feminist movements of the 1970s. I analyze Jordan’s stance of “righteous certainty”—a performative pose she adopts in order to claim her own authority to talk back to power. Righteous certainty emerges from Jordan’s struggle against personal and social violence, and thus enables a revaluation of the Yeatsian lyric’s self-oppositionality. In addition to focusing on her involvement in war resistance—through her column in the Progressive, her course “Poetry for the People,” and her readings against the war—I read Jordan’s “The Bombing of Baghdad” as a powerful chant poem that harnesses the lyric as an oppositional and documentary form and invites a transnational progressive audience to identify their own struggles with the struggles of Iraqis.

Even so, Peck— along with most of the others—gradually warmed to this abstract, shabby ‘man of God’; he may not have been their kind of protesting pacifist, but he was manifestly not a fraud” (93). In contrast, Peck acknowledges that though one might think that COs might be united by common goals, “the individualistic COs at Danbury found it almost impossible to agree on any common action to support their cause” (38). Yet, Lowell’s declining to participate in the strike against segregation, and his concomitant silence about it in his “Memories,” are a stark reminder about the epistemological limits—and potential dangers—of “getting the news” from canonized texts.

First, the resisters’ reasons for refusing to serve emerge from different circumstances: Lowell’s Just War principles, Naeve’s anarchism, and Peck’s anti-imperialism. Second, Naeve’s and Peck’s depictions of West Street Jail and Danbury Prison, where all three served the tenure of their sentences, corroborate the physical details of Lowell’s poem; Lowell’s documentary style, however, offers the ruse of realism. Third, all three accounts describe the shocked submission that accompanied the early phase of internment; if Lowell’s seems to linger in its numbed gaze, we must remember that the poem itself sets out only to consider West Street.

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