“Poetry makes nothing happen,” W.H. Auden famously wrote. But is that really true? Poetry has a long-standing role in the world of politics. What happens when poets write about war and other world events? Or when poets take a role in affairs of the state—or when the state supports the writing of poetry? Harris Feinsod and Rachel Galvin have written new books on the fates of poets and their poems from the wars of the 1930s and 1940s through the Cold War.
Feinsod examines the state-sponsored institutions and countercultural networks that sustained the poetry of the Americas from Nelson Rockefeller’s Office of the Coordinator for Inter-American Affairs to the mid-1960s avant-garde scene in Mexico City. He connects works by authors as varied as Elizabeth Bishop, Jorge Luis Borges, Allen Ginsberg, Langston Hughes, Pablo Neruda, and Charles Olson. Galvin investigates the work of civilian poets who wrote memorably about the Spanish Civil War and World War II, even though they did not feel they had authority to write about what they hadn’t experienced firsthand. Surprisingly, poets such as W. H. Auden, Marianne Moore, Raymond Queneau, Gertrude Stein, Wallace Stevens, and César Vallejo used classical rhetoric and journalistic strategies as a way to question the objectivity and facticity of war reporting.
Join Harris Feinsod and Rachel Galvin as they discuss how poetry intertwined with the geopolitics of the modernist era, moderated by the Newberry's director of Chicago Studies, Liesl Olson.
For more details, visit our website: newberry.org/02072018-two-books-poetry-and-geopolitics-harris-feinsod-and-rachel-galvin