Poetic Community examines the relationship between poetry and community formation in the decades after the Second World War. In four detailed case studies (of Black Mountain College in North Carolina, the Caribbean Artists Movement in London, the Women’s Liberation Movement at sites throughout the US, and the Toronto Research Group in Canada) the book documents and compares a diverse group of social models, small press networks, and cultural coalitions informing literary practice during the Cold War era.
Drawing on a wealth of unpublished archival materials, Stephen Voyce offers new and insightful comparative analysis of poets such as John Cage, Charles Olson, Adrienne Rich, Kamau Brathwaite, and bpNichol. In contrast with prevailing critical tendencies that read mid-century poetry in terms of expressive modes of individualism, Poetic Community demonstrates that the most important literary innovations of the post-war period were the results of intensive collaboration and social action opposing the Cold War’s ideological enclosures.
“Voyce’s Poetic Community suggests an entirely new mapping of a thirty-year segment of the postwar “American Century,” too often discussed mainly in terms of poetic alienation, individu- alism, confessionalism, and formalism. While Voyce’s concern is the relationship of poetry to precise manifestations of community formation, and much of his remarkable documentation of unpublished primary sources involves dissident small-press networks and cultural coalitions, major figures are also treated in his book. The chosen, however, embrace a diverse cross-section of influentials: John Cage, Charles Olsen, Adrienne Rich, Kamau Brathwaite, and bpNichol.” (Alan M. Wald, Modernism/modernity)
American Library Association names Poetic Community to its list of Outstanding Academic Titles of 2013.
“Voyce has written an intelligent and provocative book… This important book ought to prompt a vigorous critical conversation. Highly recommended.” (Gary Grieve-Carlson, Choice Magazine)
“In Poetic Community, Stephen Voyce excavates a social theme under-appreciated in literary studies of the Cold War years: the emergence of community concerns positioned counter to the oft-touted themes of alienation, the outsider, and expressive individualism. His book fills a necessary gap in the cultural mapping of those three decades and will prove to be an invaluable contribution to both Caribbean and women’s studies as well as contemporary North American poetics.” (Steve McCaffery, State University of New York at Buffalo)
“Stephen Voyce’s Poetic Community is a genuinely ground-breaking work of poetic history and theory that reveals how new forms of poetic collaboration, and emergent notions of collective practice shaped the most compelling English-language poetry of the post-Second World War period. Meticulously researched, emphatically argued, and inventively constructed, Poetic Community is an indispensable guide to the poetry for which we used to have no better term than ‘postmodern.’” (Christopher Nealon, Johns Hopkins University)
“Stephen Voyce’s is the rare book that is at once incisive and expansive. It cuts through the layers of fluffy thought around ‘community,’ and at the same time, it expands in prodigiously useful ways our sense of poetic community and what specific communities we might mean. It is a necessary addition to the library of poetic and social thought; indeed, it is a kind of library itself, a ‘community of useful things,’ for which I am extraordinarily grateful.” (Joshua Clover, University of California, Davis)