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Tuesday, 10 February 2009

100 Years Worst

Ed Balls, a top British politician with a background in economics, claims this current financial crisis is the "worst" recession in 100 years (since 1909 in other words) - and may prove more global than the Depression of the Thirties. Apart from this being upsetting news for us all - how does this relate to poetry?

Well, notice that Poundian poetic modernism (itself perhaps a red herring - modernism begins with Pater arguably) and imagism - the strike against the Georgian style - begins around 1910. That's 100 years of Anglo-British modernism and anti-modernism, played out against capitalism as a dominant form of ideology - often in struggle with communism or socialism. 2009 marks a break with those narrative struggles, surely. Can poets begin to forge new poetics? New ways of using language?

Or will they return to the comforts and challenges of older forms, themselves potentially radical? Will the poetry of the next 30 years be as engaged with culture, society, and politics, as the poetry between 1910 and 1939? How will the restructuring of global finance relate to the ways in which poetry gets structured? High modernism had many links with banking and high finance - Eliot worked as a banker, Pound objected infamously to certain lending practices, Wallace Stevens was a businessman - and wealthy socialites helped to "bankroll" the little magazines and movements of the period.
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