Beyond Maximus: The Construction of Public Voice in Black Mountain Poetry

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Beyond Maximus: The Construction of Public Voice in Black Mountain Poetry is the only study of Black Mountain poets (Charles Olson, Robert Creeley, Robert Duncan, Denise Levertov, and Ed Dorn) to explain their association from the 1950s to their break-up after the Vietnam War. Dewey uses the poets' correspondence and other archival materials to illuminate their mutual influence and the crucial significance of field poetics to their careers. While previous criticism has focused on the poetics of the force field as a model of nature, Dewey understands the force field as a model of social force that all five poets articulate and incorporate into poetry in ways that compete with artistic craft. Their different conceptions of social force explain their divergent careers. The development of field poetics also sheds light on these poets' attempts to create an alliance between experimental poetics and public voice, a difficult agenda that speaks to Black Mountain poetry's crucial contribution to the artistic and political struggles of New American poetry.