Follow Harriet on Twitter
Agitprop vs. Poetry
During the Vietnam War, both Robert Duncan and Denise Levertov “struggled aesthetically with the turn from lyric to public address.” The different ways that they resolved that issue destroyed their friendship. After reading The Letters of Robert Duncan and Denise Levertov and a collection of essays analyzing their conflict (Robert Duncan and Denise Levertov: The Poetry of Politics, the Politcis of Poetry ), Ange Mlinko offers her critique of the psychological, religious, and aesthetic undercurrents that led to their break-up.
(Mark Nowak’s recent posts on “poetry produced within social movements,” and Alan Gilbert’s posts from Naropa on the relationship between art and society seem to complicate and extend Levertov and Duncan’s conversation about whether a poet’s role is to “oppose evil” or “to imagine it.”)