American Poets in the 21st Century: Poetics of Social Engagement is a critical anthology of contemporary poetry and poetics published in the Wesleyan University Press American Poets Series. The volume is coedited with Claudia Rankine and features fourteen poets alongside fourteen essays on their work by leading critics and poet-critics. More information, including the table of contents, is available HERE.
Luke Jarzyna reviews Poetics of Social Engagement with keen insight and generosity at ASAP/J, the online journal of ASAP, the Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present (June 2022).
Listen to my in-depth interview about the anthology, with Adam Cohen, on the Books Aren’t Dead podcast, a project of The Fembot Collective.
Here’s the dynamite lineup of poets: Rosa Alcalá, Brian Blanchfield, Daniel Borzutzky, Carmen Giménez Smith, Allison Hedge Coke, Cathy Park Hong, Christine Hume, Bhanu Kapil, Mauricio Kilwein Guevara, Fred Moten, Craig Santos Perez, Barbara Jane Reyes, Roberto Tejada, & Edwin Torres.
And the equally terrific lineup of critics (& poet-critics & poet-critic-translators, many of whom could also feature as poets) with essays on the poets: John Alba Cutler, Chris Nealon, Kristin Dykstra, Joyelle McSweeney, Chadwick Allen, Danielle Pafunda, Molly Bendall, Eunsong Kim, Michael Dowdy, Brent Hayes Edwards, J. Michael Martinez, Martin Joseph Ponce, David Colón, & Urayoán Noel.
“It’s not about what to do next so much as it’s about what we can imagine, and what our social positions and personalities….let us imagine, given the carnage outside. These poets help us think, not about vote tallies, not about one or another incident of injustice, but about the society we have, the way that identities form within and against it, the attitudes we can examine if we want to know how to stand up, or see more clearly, or fight back.”—Stephanie Burt
“Dowdy and Rankine have provided a poetics of recognition as well as of disobedience. Their excellent selection of poets and critical commentary offers a screen shot on an era of economic inequality and racial violence, but also of new alliances and resurgent activism. Poets in this important volume testify to the fact that poetry makes something happen by imagining a new plural subject—resistant and disobedient in equal parts.” —Michael Davidson