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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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Young, Blithe, and Whimsical

Young, Blithe, and Whimsical

The Avant-Gardism of The Masses

(p.54) Chapter 3 Young, Blithe, and Whimsical
How Did Poetry Survive?

John Timberman Newcomb

University of Illinois Press

This chapter challenges the conceptual model dominating histories of modern American poetry from the 1940s, in which political and aesthetic radicalism are seen as mutually exclusive responses to twentieth-century modernity, by analyzing the avant-gardism of The Masses. It considers how The Masses, together with several other little magazines, enriched the New Verse movement by joining and competing with Poetry: A Magazine of Verse as vibrant venues of contemporary American poetry. It explains how The Masses, by putting ideology above artistry, placed itself beyond the pale of true modernism. It argues that the verse published in The Masses was more than just belated sentimentalizing or Marxist sermonizing with no significant role in the emergence of modern poetry. On the contrary, the magazine had a substantial institutional and aesthetic impact upon the New Poetry. The chapter also contends that The Masses's eclectic and iconoclastic poetics of modernity was strongly aligned with the experimental spirit later valorized by historians as modernist.

Keywords:   avant-gardism, American poetry, radicalism, Masses, little magazines, New Verse movement, modernism, New Poetry, modernity

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