By Philip Metres
No matter 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 conflict. The hasty cancellation of the 2003 White condominium symposium “Poetry and the yankee Voice” within the face of protests through Sam Hamill and different invited site visitors opposed to the arrival “shock and awe” crusade in Iraq reminded us that poetry and poets nonetheless have the ability to problem the strong. at 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 approved to talk about battle and the way it may be represented. As such, he explores a mostly overlooked zone of scholarship: the poet’s courting to dissenting political hobbies and the kingdom. In his dependent research, Metres examines the ways that battle resistance is registered not just by way of its content material but additionally 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 bounds of yankee lyric poetry. therefore, struggle resistance poetry—and the position of what Shelley calls unacknowledged legislators—is a vital, even though principally unexamined, physique of writing that stands on the heart of dissident political hobbies.
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Extra info for Behind the Lines: War Resistance Poetry on the American Home Front since 1941 (Contemp North American Poetry)
However, Lepke’s special status, which allows him the trinkets of American life “forbidden the common man,” dangerously nears the position of the midlife Lowell (and America itself). Because Lepke seems to embody so many oppositions, he becomes what Slavoj Zizek calls the “quilting point”—a sublime, negative position which absorbs and produces multiple, even contradictory meanings (SOI 95–96). Zizek’s reading of the movie shark, Jaws, is also a reading of Lepke: “what one should do is rather conceive of the monster as a fantasy screen where this very multiplicity of meanings can appear and fight for hegemony” (EYS 133).
Lowell’s disavowal of his objection in “Memories”—as naïve Oedipal rebellion, as religious zealotry, or as manic—can be read as a complex pledge of allegiance to power. 34 w o r l d wa r i i “Memories of West Street and Lepke,” the poet’s only published work directly dealing with his objection is, in Alan Williamson’s words, “the moment of crystallization” where Lowell “uses his intense self-exploration . . as a source of metaphors for understanding aspects of the public world” (4). At the center of Life Studies, the poem recounts a midlife crisis, an individual’s and a country’s, in the middle of the bloodiest of centuries: “these are the tranquillized Fifties, / and I am forty” (CPoems 187).
Lowell, therefore, may have ended up a cultural sensation not because he happened to share the views of the new radical movement, but because, as a Boston Brahmin, his early public dissent anticipated the mass movement and gave cultural weight to antiwar views and arguments. According to James Sullivan, Lowell’s “presence at the [1967 Pentagon] rally was a sign of the intellectual and cultural legitimacy of protest and, by implication, the illegitimacy of the Vietnam War” (199). Still, Lowell did not abandon his characteristic ambivalences in his poetry about resisting the war.