We use cookies to enhance your experience on our website. By continuing to use our website, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Find out more

The Poetry of the Americas

From Good Neighbors to Countercultures

Harris Feinsod

07 January 2020

ISBN: 9780190080990

440 pages

In Stock

Modernist Literature and Culture

Price: £28.49



The Poetry of the Americas provides an expansive history of relations between poets in the US and Latin America over three decades, from the Good Neighbor diplomacy of World War II to 1960s Cold War cultural policy.

  • Compares and connects works by a wide array of poets from the US, the Caribbean and Latin America who sought to write a transnational "poetry of the Americas"
  • Theorizes new forms and concepts for the fields of comparative poetics and hemispheric literary history, including the poetics of diplomacy, the symbolic use of foreign words, the genre of the meditation on ruins, and cosmopolitan strategies of collaborative authorship
  • Uses archival sources to offer new details on relations between major poets such as Bishop, Ginsberg, Williams, de Burgos, Neruda, and Paz and lesser-known poets such as Carrera Andrade, Kemp, Blackburn, and Randall
  • Puts forward a comprehensive view of "inter-American" poetry and cultural diplomacy during World War II and the early Cold War

About the Author(s)

Harris Feinsod, Assistant Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Northwestern University

Harris Feinsod is Assistant Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Northwestern University.

Table of Contents

    List of Illustrations
    A Note on the Text
    Hazarding the Poetry of the Americas
    The Poetry of the Americas: A Genealogy
    Integrationist Literary History
    Cultural Diplomacy from Good Neighbors to Countercultures
    Six Chapters in the Poetry of the Americas
    1. Hemispheric Solidarities: Wartime Poetry and the Limits of the Good Neighbor
    The Office of the Coordinators of Inter-American Poetry
    Bridging the Hemisphere: Carrera Andrade's Hart Crane
    Minority Islands: Hughes, Frank, de Moraes, and the Poem of Racial Democracy
    Between Dissidence and Diplomacy: Neruda, Bishop, Burgos
    William Carlos Williams and the Ardor of Puerto Rico
    Lysander Kemp and the Gunboat Good Neighbor
    2. A Xenoglossary for the Americas
    Foreign Words and Bloc Politics
    Steven's Lingua Franca et Jocundissima
    Lezama's Citations
    Borges and the Dawn of English
    3. The Ruins of Inter-Americanism
    Privileged Observatories: A Midcentury Culture of Pre-Columbian Ruins
    Dead Mouths: Neruda at Machu Picchu
    Repossessed Dynamics: Olson and Barlow Among Stones
    Mechano Hells and Mayan Isms: Ginsberg, Lamantia, Cardenal
    Hidden Doors: Ferlinghetti and Adán at Machu Picchu
    4. The New Inter-American Poetry
    Beats and Barbudos
    Blackburn, Cortázar and all the Village Cronopios
    The True Pan-American Union: Margaret Randall and El Corno Emplumado
    Transnational Martyrology: Heraud, Quena, Eshleman
    Neruda, Deep Image, and the Politics of Translation
    Manhattan Poems beyond the New York School
    5. Questions of Anticommunism: Hemispheric Lyric in the 1960s
    Bishop's First Anticommunist Shudder
    Lowell's Imperial Phantasmagoria
    Walcott in the Gulf
    Padilla in Difficult Times
    Stations in the Gulf
    6. Renga and Heteronymy: Cosmopolitan Poetics after 1967
    Go Home, Octavio Paz!
    La Renga de Occidente
    Heteronyms and Literary History


"this study not only deepens our understanding of poetry scholarship and Literary History, but also may help reform the way Literary History is taught. This will entail applying Feinsod's insights in innovative anthologies and in courses and seminars that allow students to immerse themselves in the work of a single author, allowing one to focus also on the hemispheric dimensions of their work." - Philipp Reisner, Amerikastudien

"Its poetic interpretations are forensic and fearless, formally sophisticated and yet politically acute. And the book is sustained by extensive archival research into the collections of poets and translators and bureaucrats. The range of poetry considered is impressively wide..." - Peter Hulme, University of Essex, New West Indian Guide

"[An] excellent, felicitously written exploration of two generations of poets in the United States and Spanish-speaking America... The trans-national story Feinsod tells of poetry as a practice for social reimagination shows the difficulty of such a dramatic and extensive transformation, but also visions of a life radically different from the present shimmering unexpectedly into view." - Richard Cándida Smith, Society for U.S. Intellectual History

"this book is a treasure-trove ... a series of crisp, new interpretations." - Stephen M Hart, Modern Language Notes

"These days few critical monographs compel me to read them cover to cover. In most cases I do not make it much past the introduction. Harris Feinsod's first book is among the rare exceptions that I read and reread with genuine delight. Why? Because this book offers unexpected ways of thinking about poetic form in the work of writers from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Guyana, Mexico, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, St. Lucia, and the United States, and it does so in lucid, graceful prose. What I find most attractive is Feinsod's focus on poetic forms as 'expression[s] of geopolitical desire,'vision[s] of an alternative world order,' and 'manifestations of a network of writers and institutions'that stand behind them" - Vera Kutzinski, Modern Language Quarterly

"Articulating the far-flung hemispheric coordinates of the poetry of the Americas has, until Harris Feinsod's highly anticipated book, proved too challenging. ...[In] his exceptional literary history... some of the his archival finds are indeed world-reshaping, for the poetry world, but also for cultural histories of World War II, the Cold War, and the Sixties... The Poetry of the Americas has a fine-tuned critical style.... unsettling, wise, and strangely entertaining." - Michael Dowdy, Modernism/modernity

"Feinsod masterfully tells an overarching story of the entwined development of the poetry of the Americas and the "modern inter-American political system" through poems and their archives - a story that is impressively wide-ranging in its geography, contents, forms, protagonists, and antagonists... Feinsod's rare ability to illuminate fine detail and then to make it speak to the personally intimate and globally public with equal verve is admirable. Both for the arguments it makes and for the archives it opens in making them, Poetry of the Americas is a title that will find influence in ways that eluded many of its subjects." - Gayle Rogers, Contemporary Literature

"Feinsod's book has earned excellent reviews for a reason; the energy and erudition he brings to his project, the cross-lingual readings and historical nuance are impressive, and make his book a delight to read... an invigorating map tracing a fresh route into Stevens's inter-Americanism." - Jason D. Stevens, Wallace Stevens Journal

"The only thing more impressive than the scope and extent of Feinsod's research...is its readerly agility..... [It] makes a series of timely, indelible interventions into fields both overlapping and adjacent.... The result is a groundbreaking and immediately indispensable work at the intersection of poetic and cultural history." - Tobias Huttner, Critical Inquiry

"Geopolitical feelings, both institutional and self-expansive, are the subject of this first-rate inter-American literary history. Harris Feinsod animates episodes in the ambassadorship of poetic forms infused with optimism and misgiving about integrationist desires, diplomacy, and poetics. Genealogical lines connect in tropes of pre-conquest ruins that serve as allegories about inter-Americanism; collaborative poems mirror the assemblage of political and economic alignments in the hemisphere; and at the heart of this book is the landmark example of Margaret Randall and Sergio Mondragón's avant-garde journal El corno emplumado. Here at last are the archives and arguments to endorse contemporary practitioners for whom a poetry of the Americas has long been a drive and aspiration." - Roberto Tejada, University of Houston

"The Poetry of the Americas is a field-changing book. Recovering a lost literary project of inter-American poetic conversation, Harris Feinsod disrupts our sense of the boundaries of 'American poetry' and obliges us to rethink stale period markers. His work allows us to re-evaluate poems we thought we knew, and to be stunned by poems we didn't know we should: in his readings, many energies - cosmopolitan; imperialist and anti-imperialist; communist and anti-communist - all mix and mingle through the medium of the contradictory ideal of 'the Americas.' It is a triumph of historical research, and a miracle of cross-linguistic reading." - Christopher Nealon, John Hopkins University

"Its poetic interpretations are forensic and fearless, formally sophisticated and yet politically acute." - Peter Hulme, New West Indian Guide