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Whitman, Melville, Crane, and the Labors of American PoetryAgainst Vocation$
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Peter Riley

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198836254

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198836254.001.0001

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Making Ends Meet

Making Ends Meet

Hart Crane’s Job

(p.146) 6 Making Ends Meet
Whitman, Melville, Crane, and the Labors of American Poetry

Peter Riley

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the continually waylaid career of Hart Crane. Working contra the vocational arrangement set out by his modernist colleagues, Crane consistently produced work that undermined the very possibility of a discrete poetic labor. His erratic career represents an important alternative to the binary vocational model exactly because this model always eluded him. He provides an insight into what happens when the modernist poet falls just short of the necessary privilege, infrastructural trappings and consistencies possessed by an Eliot or a Stevens. In his continual crossings out and rewritings, you see the drafts of poetry working themselves up into such a state that, perhaps inevitably, they start speaking in symptomatic shaking suspension bridges and apocalyptic vortices: a symbolic register that repeatedly refers back to, and reimagines, the shifting political and economic terrain beneath his feet.

Keywords:   Crane, modernism, revision, copywriting, The Bridge, manuscripts, vocation, Adorno

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