Poetic Investigations: Singing the Holes in History

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This text studies five contemporary writers whose radical engagements with poetic form and political content shed new light on issues of race, class and gender. In a detailed reading of three American poets - Susan Howe, Nathaniel Mackey and Lyn Hejinian, and two Caribbean poets, Kamau Brathwaite and M. Nourbese Philip, the book argues that these writers have produced new forms of poetry that address the holes in history that more traditional forms of poetry neglect. By refusing to limit their work to lyrical expressions of personal experience, it maintains that these writers produce poetry that explores the linguistic, historical and political conditions of contemporary culture, advancing a formally and thematically challenging critique of the ways in which women and people of colour are represented. Far from constituting a unified school of poetry however, the book argues that these five writers represent different facets of the various kinds of poetic practice taking place on the margins of contemporary culture.