Academic journal article Military Review

Poets against the War

Academic journal article Military Review

Poets against the War

Article excerpt

POETS AGAINST THE WAR, Sam Hamill and Sally Anderson, eds., Thunder's Mouth Press/Nation Books, New York, 2003, 263 pages, $12.95.

You might not be interested in war, but war is interested in you. -Leon Trotsky

After enjoying Sam Hamill's excellent introduction to this volume of protest poetry, my impression was that many contributors wrote simply out of an urgent need to say something-anything. What emerges reads like rough drafts rather than final cuts, which is disappointing considering the outstanding lineup of poets Hamill assembled.

Often poetry arising from national or international exigencies is written too quickly. Antiwar movements deserve articulation but should not produce a literature of rambling and inartistic polemics about the self-evident undergirded by languid endings and unimaginative titles. Poets need the tempering discipline of imagistic or symbolist and rhythmic or stylistic austerity. Too much is obvious in these poems, and the more obvious or universal a particular subject is, such as war, the more effort must be put into the artistry of the telling. …

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