Mark Nowak | Social Poetics (An Introduction)

    Langston Hughes, no doubt reflecting on his own wide-ranging political activities in and beyond Jim Crow America during the first half of the twentieth century, once described what he felt to be a central difference between the “social poet” and those poets who were more exclusively concerned with aesthetics and craft: “I have never known the police of any country to show an interest in lyric poetry as such. But when poems stop talking about the moon and begin to mention poverty, trade unions, color lines, and colonies, somebody tells the police.” Hughes’s crucial essay, published in W….

Best Books of 2020

  Galina Rymbu | Life in Space (Translated by Joan Brooks) To be political, poetry does not have to turn into advertising, advocate for parties or platforms. Poetry becomes political when it represents the world as having a nature that is not “natural,” but rather negotiated, an Indra’s net that is political, social, and economic; made up of contingencies, and having to do with power—mainly of people over people—which is buttressed by ideology first and coercion second. A poetry that represents the world as political is political. It is also secular. A poetry that represents the world as immutable is…