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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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Gutter and Skyline

Gutter and Skyline

The New Verse and the Metropolitan Cityscape

(p.147) Chapter 6 Gutter and Skyline
How Did Poetry Survive?

John Timberman Newcomb

University of Illinois Press

This chapter examines the little magazines' shift to a poetry of modern life between 1910 and 1925 by discarding long-standing generic strictures of style and subject matter in favor of themes dealing with the industrialized metropolis. Soon after 1910, many poets such as T. S. Eliot, Claude McKay, and Carl Sandburg began to write verses about life in the modern city. This turn toward urban subject matter marked a decisive change in American poetry's relationship to modernity and an epochal departure from national traditions. This chapter considers the integral connection between verse and the visual arts as many American poets focused on investigating urban modernity as a subject. It also discusses the different ways that these poets learned to represent the machine-age metropolis after 1910 and challenged the aesthetic and ideological verities of class, ethnicity, and gender underlying their romantic-genteel inheritance; acts of observation in American cityscape verse that operate at both microscopic and panoramic levels; and poems of gutters, street pavements, and skylines that are complementary within an emerging poetics of urban materiality.

Keywords:   little magazines, modern life, metropolis, American poetry, visual arts, poets, urban modernity, cityscape, urban materiality, Carl Sandburg

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