The books gathered here demonstrate the arrival of a new era in American poetry studies that takes seriously the materiality of form and the relationship it implies between textual detail and social, political, and historical context. The sense of a poem as a “palimtext,” to cite Michael Davidson, is assumed here by the way these books deploy the historicist methods Davidson argues are necessary for tracing the intertextual and multiply layered registers of meaning making in American poetry (Ghostlier Demarcations: Modern Poetry and the Material Word, Berkeley and Los Angeles: Univ. of California Press [1997], 9). All three situate the aesthetic word in relation to a range of institutional, cultural, and political worlds that lie beyond poetry’s frame. They continue the work of restoring the political and critical capabilities once recognized by early Marxists, as Davidson notes, and which had...

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