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Poets Beyond the Barricade, Poets Beyond the Barricade, 081731749X, 0-8173-1749-X, 978-0-8173-1749-2, 9780817317492, , , Poets Beyond the Barricade, 0817385924, 0-8173-8592-4, 978-0-8173-8592-7, 9780817385927,

Poets Beyond the Barricade
Rhetoric, Citizenship, and Dissent after 1960

Trade Cloth
2012. 200 pp.
Price:  $29.95 s
E Book
2012. 200 pp.
Price:  $29.95 d

Since the cultural conflicts over the Vietnam War and civil rights protests, poets and poetry have consistently raised questions surrounding public address, social relations, friction between global policies and democratic institutions, and the interpretation of political events and ideas. In Poets Beyond the Barricade: Rhetoric, Citizenship, and Dissent after 1960, Dale Smith makes meaningful links among rhetoric, literature, and cultural studies, illustrating how poetry and discussions of it shaped public consciousness from the socially volatile era of the 1960s to the War on Terror of today.
The book begins by inspecting the correspondence and poetry of Robert Duncan and Denise Levertov, which embodies competing perspectives on the role of writers in the Vietnam War and in the peace movement. The work addresses the rational-critical mode of public discourse initiated by Jürgen Habermas and the relevance of rhetorical studies to literary practice. Smith also analyses letters and poetry by Charles Olson that appeared in a New England newspaper in the 1960sand drew attention to city management conflicts, land-use issues, and architectural preservation. Public identity and U.S. social practice are explored in the 1970s and ‘80s poetry of Lorenzo Thomas and Edward Dorn, whose poems articulate tensions between private and public life. The book concludes by examining more recent attempts by poets to influence public reflection on crucial events that led to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. By using digital media, public performance, and civic encounters mediated by texts, these poetic initiatives play a critical role in the formation of cultural identity today.


Dale M. Smith is an assistant professor of English at Ryerson University, Toronto, and has published articles and reviews in the American Book Review, Bookforum, Jacket, Chicago Review, and the Poetry Foundation, among other publications. He is also the author of four collections of poems.

"In the US, poetry has not been the voice of public dissent that it is in other countries. Smith's book gives readers a sense of the poetry community of protest. If that community's poetry does not have a larger voice, it is not because the poets and their audiences are not engaged or because the poetry is not good--much political poetry is of the highest caliber--but instead because in the US poetry is a marginalized voice in mainstream culture. Smith (Ryerson Univ., Toronto) explores some of the better-known early political poets--Denise Levertov, Adrienne Rich, Charles Olsen, and Robert Duncan--all of whom engaged the activism of the 1960s and the draft. Smith moves to the Poets against the War movement, devoted to using poetry to protest the Iraq War. Smith explains that Poets against the War uses the Internet, whereas Poetry Is Public Art (PIPA) uses public spaces. Smith explores the way political poetry continues to confront public policies and challenge the status quo. Summing Up: Recommended. Graduate students, researchers, professionals."

“Poets Beyond the Barricade is original in that it makes an argument about poetry and the social through the lens of rhetoric rather than literary history. It tries to answer the perennial question about the relationship of poetry to politics and the public good that depends on arguments about public speech, persuasion and effectiveness rather than staying within the small world of literary criticism. It is significant because these are real issues that continue to haunt practitioners and scholars of poetry. And it has people in it as well as texts. It will serve a useful bridge between poetry studies, public sphere debates, rhetoric/composition studies, and a growing academic audience thirsting for models of ‘engaged scholarship.’”--Maria Damon, author of Poetics: From Bagel Shop Jazz to Micropoetries and co-editor of Poetry and Cultural Studies: A Reader


"Smith provocatively reopens the ancient question of the relationship of rhetoric and poetics with this powerful analysis of key moments in American radical poetry.  Scholars of rhetoric, politics, and literature will find both the case studies and the theoretical discussion immensely useful in reconsidering poetry's place in a democratic public culture."—James Arnt Aune, author of Selling the Free Market

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