ENG 384 Poetry and Politics

This course focuses on political resistance as it is described, and exemplified, within the work of select authors. We will explore responses to fascism as well as to the effects of war, colonialism, and the struggle for civil rights in the work of key poets of the early to mid 20th century in Italy, Russia, Germany, Nigeria, Barbados, and the United States. How did particular poets write within, and against, Stalin’s Russia and Mussolini’s Italy?  How did a German-Jewish exile poet write to disarm and re-create his mother tongue? Why did the Black Revolutionary Poets see themselves as “warriors,” though they only worked in words? How did these poets’ political affiliations affect their imagery, poetic characters, use of language, and style? How is poetic form itself viewed as political?  Poets include: Cesare Pavese, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Anna Ahkmatova, Christopher Okigbo, Paul Celan, Gwendolyn Brooks, June Jordan, Nikki Giovanni, and Kamau Brathwaite, among others. This class is open to students who have not studied modern or contemporary poetry.