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 warfare. The hasty cancellation of the 2003 White apartment symposium “Poetry and the yank Voice” within the face of protests through Sam Hamill and different invited visitors opposed to the arrival “shock and awe” crusade in Iraq reminded us that poetry and poets nonetheless have the facility to problem the strong. in the back of the traces investigates American battle resistance poetry from the second one international warfare during the Iraq wars. instead of easily chronicling the style, Philip Metres argues that this poetry will get to the guts of who's licensed to discuss battle and the way it may be represented. As such, he explores a principally overlooked sector of scholarship: the poet’s courting to dissenting political routine and the kingdom. In his stylish research, Metres examines the ways that conflict resistance is registered not just when it comes to 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 yank lyric poetry. therefore, battle resistance poetry—and the function of what Shelley calls unacknowledged legislators—is a vital, notwithstanding mostly unexamined, physique of writing that stands on the middle of dissident political hobbies.
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Additional resources for Behind the Lines: War Resistance Poetry on the American Home Front since 1941 (Contemp North American Poetry)
Just as in “Memories,” then, Lowell casts protest against war as a hopeless, but morally justified, endeavor. Lowell’s overidentification with power and reliance upon “Great Man” historiography probably lead him to represent war resistance simply as the strivings of the weak. But lest we scapegoat Lowell, we must consider the ways in which these representations emerge from both a personal worldview and from the dominant discourse’s treatment of revolt as “revolting,” abject, or crazy. On the one hand, the odd paradox of Lowell’s overidentification with power, along with his resistance to the abuses of that power, resembles the dynamics of his bipolarity—from fantasizing being a dictator to desiring his own castration.
Lowell’s young self, already an “empty mirror” to the speaker, is darkly reflected in the intensely ambiguous, even sublime, figure of Czar Lepke, a kind of impotent monster with whom Lowell identified in his manic phases. From the first word of the poem, the poet’s current domestic lifestyle is portrayed as being full of extravagances, eccentricities, and infantilization: Only teaching on Tuesdays, book-worming in pajamas fresh from the washer each morning, I hog a whole house on Boston’s “hardly passionate Marlborough Street” (CPoems 187) Lowell is “only teaching,” not “teaching only” on Tuesdays; his choice to frame his memories by his present situation speaks to a time when teaching itself was surveilled for its subversive elements, as “teachers and professors were being forced to sign loyalty oaths and/or were being dismissed because of present or past political beliefs” (Nadel 82).
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. Yet, Lowell’s elision of his experience in Danbury—especially the prison strike for desegregation organized by conscientious objectors—has serious implications for how we remember war resistance during the Second World War. Fourth, each representation—whether narrative or poetic—articulates the various and differing modes and possibilities of resistance; this final point underscores the horizons of Lowell’s text as not representative of CO prison resistance.