October 11, 2004

Also interesting that I read this weekend was Mark Nowak's Shut Up, Shut Down. It is a series of poems in the documentary tradition about labor and factories in the upper midwest. Mark is from Buffalo originally and several of the poems are about Buffalo's intense decline after the steel markets folded in the late twentieth century. The book is very devoted to the leftist/communist tradition of U.S. poetry (this tradition that Cary Nelson's work has done so much to bring back into focus; I highly recommend his work if you haven't read it yet). It has a wondeful retro feel about it. No avant garde word spew here. And it has a clear position.

I recommend it for anyone who wants to think about getting more voices into their poem or how to sort different linguistic registers. He has different sorts of quotes in bold and italics and Poem in roman. Etc. All are embedded in a Poem structure (ragged right margin; wandering, shortish lines; sometimes prose sections at the top of the poem). Also good for thinking about tradition, about who you write with and what sorts of forms you use to write with them (as in who are your poetic people? Mark is clear on his.).

Great poem here: "Capitalization" which puns on capital the money and capital letters in poems.

I confess though that I keep wanting part two of this book. The book chronicles what happens in parts of the US post-70s globalization. Which is basically that organized labor no longer is labor because there are no jobs. The jobs go elsewhere. I guess I'd like to see a little more global discussion. About both US privilege (those without jobs in the rust belt still eating more than many in other places). And what happens when these jobs go to other places (which tends to be exploitation of labor with low wages and no benefits and environmental disaster).

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