"You can find Genevieve Taggard or Margaret Walker in virtually any anthology of American literature. Increasingly you can find Lola Ridge there as well. Yet until Nancy Berke's eloquent book you could not find elegant, detailed, historically informed readings of their work. Now for the first time these ground-breaking women poets on the Left have the attention they deserve. Anyone interested in committed poetry and progressive culture will find Berke an essential resource."--Cary Nelson, University of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignNancy Berke studies the poetry of three radical women authors who wrote in the first half of the 20th century about the compelling issues of their times: the depression, working-class movements, the Great Migration, and race discrimination. In a clear and concise style, Berke offers readers a theoretical framework, historical overview, and careful reading of the poetry of Lola Ridge, Genevieve Taggard, and Margaret Walker. She describes the rich social, historical, and political context of their work, making the book an in-depth study of the gender issues, radical politics, and poetry of the modern period, 1915-1945. With Walker, the best known of the three poets, Berke focuses on the writer’s contributions to African American modernism during the depression and World War II. With Ridge and Taggard, she explores how the neglect of these poets, particularly by feminist literary criticism, has seriously altered awareness of the social and political concerns of feminist modernists. The work of these politically committed leftist poets, accompanied by Berke’s discussion of their influential writing, advances the ongoing conversation of modernism as a highly contested literary and cultural movement. Paying particular attention to the issue of class, she stresses the need for modern American poetry to move beyond aesthetic biases and place greater importance on social categories such as race, class, and gender. Though written primarily for literary scholars, the book will appeal to general readers interested in gender issues, politics, poetry, or the history of the left or of feminism.Nancy Berke teaches English and women’s studies at Hunter College, City University of New York, and was recently Fulbright Visiting Professor at the University of Liege, Belgium. She has published articles on women’s poetry and has edited a book chapter on American women poets on the left for a forthcoming anthology.
Literature & Fiction, World Literature, United States, History & Criticism,