Poetry News

Patrick James Dunagan Reviews Joshua Clover's Red Epic

By Harriet Staff

Joshua Clover

At Your Impossible Voice, Patrick James Dunagan provides insight into Joshua Clover's most recent collection of poems, Red Epic. The collection is published by Commune Editions: a new "start-up press Clover along with fel­low poets Juliana Spahr and Jasper Bernes estab­lished in part­ner­ship with left­ist, anti-commercial AK Press" as Dunagan writes. More:

Few books, let alone books of poetry, arrive boast­ing a blurb from Enter­tain­ment Weekly while simul­ta­ne­ously, and aggres­sively, declar­ing the attempt to estab­lish a Marx­ist lyric praxis. Joshua Clover’s Red Epic, how­ever, does just this. Red Epic is the first of a pro­jected series of books to be pub­lished by Com­mune Edi­tions, a start-up press Clover along with fel­low poets Juliana Spahr and Jasper Bernes estab­lished in part­ner­ship with left­ist, anti-commercial AK Press. With a splashy plethora of bright red across its cover, there’s lit­tle mis­un­der­stand­ing as to the polit­i­cal lean­ings of both poet and press.

Through rig­or­ous prose, Clover has long toiled within Marx­ist crit­i­cal analy­sis but with Red Epic he brings this analy­sis to bear in com­pelling poetry. He is not turn­ing his back on his Marx­ist crit­i­cism but rather attempt­ing to broaden the reach of its argu­ment across the span of his writ­ing. This book is an ambi­tious project. With his poetic skill on dis­play, the critic inside the poet inside the critic is fre­quently found argu­ing with him­self and tear­ing down the very struc­tures he would erect to advance the ideals he would have the poems stand upon and rep­re­sent. As a call for rev­o­lu­tion­ary artis­tic prac­tice, his book remains admirably rest­less in its con­fronta­tion with the seem­ingly anti­thet­i­cal nature of it all. Clover doesn’t back away from con­fronting the desire for a lyric that “turns to the lan­guage of value” and here he’s speak­ing to poets first rather than labor or the market.[...]

Continue at Your Impossible Voice.