By Andrew Epstein
Even though it has lengthy been regular to visualize the archetypal American poet making a song a solitary "Song of Myself," a lot of the main enduring American poetry has truly been preoccupied with the drama of friendship. during this lucid and soaking up research, Andrew Epstein argues that an obsession with either the pleasures and difficulties of friendship erupts within the "New American Poetry" that emerges after the second one international struggle. via targeting probably the most major postmodernist American poets--the "New York college" poets John Ashbery, Frank O'Hara, and their shut modern Amiri Baraka--Beautiful Enemies unearths a primary paradox on the middle of postwar American poetry and tradition: the avant-garde's dedication to individualism and nonconformity runs without delay counter to its personal valorization of neighborhood and collaboration. in reality, Epstein demonstrates that the conflict among friendship and nonconformity complicates the mythical alliances solid by means of postwar poets, turns into a foremost topic within the poetry they created, and leaves modern writers with a sophisticated legacy to barter. instead of easily celebrating friendship and poetic neighborhood as nurturing and encouraging, those poets characterize friendship as one of those exhilarating, maddening contradiction, a website of appeal and repulsion, affinity and competition. not easy either the reductive opinions of yankee individualism and the idealized, seriously biographical celebrations of literary camaraderie one unearths in a lot serious dialogue, this e-book offers a brand new interpretation of the atypical dynamics of yank avant-garde poetic groups and the function of the person inside of them. by way of situating his vast and revealing readings of those hugely influential poets opposed to the backdrop of chilly battle cultural politics and in the context of yankee pragmatist concept, Epstein uncovers the collision among radical self-reliance and the siren name of the interpersonal on the center of postwar American poetry.
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Extra resources for Beautiful Enemies: Friendship and Postwar American Poetry
The subsequent chapters investigate how three representative poets, O’Hara, Ashbery, and Baraka, mobilize their poetry in quite different ways to dramatize and hash out the problems of individualism, friendship, and the demands and drawbacks of participating in the avantgarde. Although numerous other poets sound variations on these themes, I feel these poets offer some of the most nuanced, inﬂuential, and lasting poetic articulations of its problems. Chapters 3 through 6 offer a new perspective on the work of each poet in turn, generally focusing ﬁrst on their representations of selfhood and then their treatment of friendship.
35) Although Language poets frequently sing the praises of the community in these kinds of tones, they at the same time acknowledge the difﬁculties of balancing self and group in ways that closely echo the poets central to this study. In his provocative book My Way (a title that would probably have made Emerson, Sinatra, and Sid Vicious all smile), Charles Bernstein writes of his deﬁance of the potential exclusivity and insularity of the Language community: “I am leery of how loyalty to old friends can form a closed circle, and I have tried, no doubt clumsily, ﬁtfully, inadequately, to resist the temptation” (251).
In doing so, I hope to demonstrate that literature, and poetry in particular, has the special ability to dramatize philosophical, theoretical problems, to expose their ambiguities and contradictions, and to chart their impact on human minds and lives. Many of the poems discussed here map, in ways that perhaps other discourses cannot, the allure and the danger, the magnetic pull and the dismaying limitations, of cornerstone American tropes like self-reliance, continual movement, and egalitarian fellowship.