Agony over people living in poverty
– Who is being grieved in this moment?
Dorothea Lange asked to talk to white people
– How is race factoring into this?
– Complicated moments of racial context
Agee article – commissioned to write this
These issues don’t arise with Street in Bronzeville
Voices of people affected by the war
Brooks – Kitchenette Building
– Charts degrees of race
– Crisis of the war in terms of race relations in America
– Harlem renaissance
— Race + class + gaze
— Writing a poem at a certain place at a time and what is there & then
Ballad of Pearl May Lee
This week’s assignment – poem for a building (e.g. Kitchenette Building) or person (more examples in Brooks collection)
Gwendolyn Brooks did groundbreaking work within her own community
Ballads, sonnets, open form poems – feels like walking down a street
– Content against the form
What happened to the people who were photographed?
bivouac – “hard camping”
– How does “By the bivouac’s fitful flame” work as a poem?
– Private, tender moments, philosophical considerations
– Poem of bonds + equality
– Juxtaposing beauty + battle
How does photography influence our perception of the truth?
Is Whitman writing from experience or from a photo?
Whitman as a formal response to the idea of America
– What does the poem do?
– Whitman tries to make himself a metaphor for America
— Whitman becomes a metonym
– What does the journalism do?
— Journalism as one of the things that “make America great”
— Journalism as the foundation of American equality
— Ethics question of writing about the war without fighting
— “I can’t write the truth”
— War in Iraq: Whitman as first embedded journalist
— Whitman didn’t fight, but he still helped by bringing letters and supplies, green tea, searched for his brother
– Whitman stops being a journalist, wanders around the city, produces Leaves of Grass in 1855
— Whitman worked as a journalist for the Brooklyn Eagle
— Explosion of the printing press in New York at this time
— How are the journalism and the poetry relating to each other?
— Poems -> journalistic details -> cameos, place names
— journalistic gestures vs. poetic gestures in the collection
— Leaves of Grass: Anonymous Review! (written by Walt Whitman)
— DESIRE / idea of being solidified by affection
What happens when you talk to a year, or to a month?
Assignment: Write a poem “to” a year or month etc (as in Whitman’s)
Romantic break ups
Activism? Whitman cared about open space in the middle of the city, lungs