“Do our chains offend you?”

Mark W. Van Wienen

in The Oxford Handbook of Modern and Contemporary American Poetry

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780195398779
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 “Do our chains offend you?”

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  • Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)
  • Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)


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In recent years a number of articles and anthologies have focused on individual American poets, and even groups of poets, who have been imprisoned for reasons that are manifestly political. This article builds upon this work on political-prisoner poets as conventionally defined. It conceives of the various kinds of such poets as constituting not isolated, exceptional cases but an American subgenre and a tradition, multifarious but united by a struggle against a common antagonist, a supposedly liberal state that tolerates dissent and diversity only to a certain point.

Keywords: prison poetry; political prisoners; American poetry; modern poetry

Article.  10635 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (20th Century onwards) ; Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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