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How Did Poetry Survive?The Making of Modern American Verse$
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John Timberman Newcomb

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780252036798

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252036798.001.0001

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Poetry’s Opening Door

Poetry’s Opening Door

Harriet Monroe and American Modernism

(p.26) Chapter 2 Poetry’s Opening Door
How Did Poetry Survive?

John Timberman Newcomb

University of Illinois Press

This chapter examines how the New Verse movement achieved spectacular success by focusing on the role played by Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, particularly in creating a space for contemporary American verse where none had been. Poetry, founded by Harriet Monroe in Chicago in 1912, exemplifies the productive intersection between twentieth-century artistic avant-gardes and the forces of modern disciplinary specialization. This chapter looks at how Monroe and others forged Poetry's identity through antagonistic opposition to such “standpatters” as the “quality magazines,” transforming it into a pioneering endeavor in the rhetorical self-fashioning of a twentieth-century American avant-gardism. It also considers Poetry's feud with The Dial, which still saw poetry as an instrument of moral uplift that was now menaced by what it called “Futurism.” Finally, it discusses Poetry's advocacy of institutional support for contemporary poets, and especially how it reformulated central concepts of literary value—genius, masterpiece, tradition, form, audience—into a forceful poetics of avant-garde progressivism. The chapter argues that Poetry's avant-garde experiments have a transformative impact upon American poetry, and literary culture more generally.

Keywords:   avant-gardism, New Verse movement, Poetry, Harriet Monroe, quality magazines, Dial, Futurism, poets, avant-garde progressivism, American poetry

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