Poetry, for Jed Rasula, bears traces of our entanglement with
our surroundings, and these traces define a collective voice in
modern poetry independent of the more specific influences and
backgrounds of the poets themselves. In This Compost
Rasula surveys both the convictions asserted by American poets and
the poetics they develop in their craft, all with an eye toward an
emerging ecological worldview.
Rasula begins by examining poets associated with Black Mountain
College in the 1950s--Charles Olson, Robert Creeley, and Robert
Duncan--and their successors. But This Compost extends to
include earlier poets like Robinson Jeffers, Ezra Pound, Louis
Zukofsky, Kenneth Rexroth, and Muriel Rukeyser, as well as Clayton
Eshleman, Gary Snyder, Michael McClure, and other contemporary
poets. Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson also make appearances.
Rasula draws this diverse group of poets together, uncovering how
the past is a "compost" fertilizing the present. He looks at the
heritage of ancient lore and the legacy of modern history and
colonial violence as factors contributing to ecological imperatives
in modern poetry.
This Compost restores the dialogue between poetic
language and the geophysical, biological realm of nature that so
much postmodern discourse has sought to silence. It is a fully
developed, carefully argued book that deals with an
underrepresented element in modern American culture, where the
natural world and those who write about it have been greatly
neglected in contemporary literary history and theory.
Subjects: Language & Literature
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