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Radical as RealityForm and Freedom in American Poetry$
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Peter Campion

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780226663234

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226663401.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 26 September 2021

Introduction: Radical as Reality

Introduction: Radical as Reality

(p.1) Introduction: Radical as Reality
(p.iii) Radical as Reality

Peter Campion

University of Chicago Press

Readers might detect something strange in my naming a book about American poetry after a remark of Vladimir Lenin’s. Admittedly, my first encounter with the word radical came in adolescence, when friends and I applied it to anything that thrilled us—bootleg concert tapes, skateboard tricks, celebrities—not knowing we were emulating Californian surf culture. I hope that spirit survives here: I want to identify what in modern poetry fills me with awe, what feels most surprising and inevitable, built to endure. But that story of the poet and the revolutionary also offers a serious parable about modernity. The encounter between Valeriu Marcu and Lenin, resulting in the declaration that the artist and the political actor share an ambition to create something as “radical as reality itself,” suggests not only how political movements in the years ahead would often adopt aesthetic dimensions, but also how modern art would emerge. If such a parable carries ominous undertones, dark hints of the nightmares those dreams could become, I still catch a canny hopefulness in that statement, asking us to consider how moments of wonder, liberating moments, might be sustained as made things....

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