“Poets are: a) clowns b) parasites c) legislators d) terrorists” —“Quiz” Linh Dinh
In this course we will explore the ever changing role of the political poem. We will begin by reading Hegel’s Phenomenology of the Spirit to use as a lens with which to explore how art reflects the zeitgeist of the culture that creates it. What role does the poet play in reflecting the popular and alternative political concerns of a moment? How is popular culture and underground culture in constant rotation? How have poems moved people to political action? We will read the work of poets from around the globe who have risked their lives to create work that was seen as a threat to the state, including: Vasko Popa, Anna Akhmatova, Federico García Lorca, Miguel Hernández, Charles Baudelaire, Basil Bunting, Allen Ginsberg, Cesar Vallejo, Roque Dalton, Li Po, Wang Wei, Demetria Martínez, and more.
Students will be asked to participate in a series of guided discussions and write weekly reading responses. We will finish the semester with a final term paper on a poet that engages our political moment.