Front cover image for Beautiful enemies : friendship and postwar American poetry

Beautiful enemies : friendship and postwar American poetry

Andrew Epstein (Author)
Although it has long been commonplace to imagine the archetypal American poet singing a solitary "Song of Myself," much of the most enduring American poetry has actually been preoccupied with the drama of friendship. In this lucid and absorbing study, Andrew Epstein argues that an obsession with both the pleasures and problems of friendship erupts in the "New American Poetry" that emerges after the Second World War. By focusing on some of the most significant postmodernist American poets--the "New York School" poets John Ashbery, Frank O'Hara, and their close contemporary Amiri Baraka--Beautiful Enemies reveals a fundamental paradox at the heart of postwar American poetry and culture: the avant-garde's commitment to individualism and nonconformity runs directly counter to its own valorization of community and collaboration. In fact, Epstein demonstrates that the clash between friendship and nonconformity complicates the legendary alliances forged by postwar poets, becomes a predominant theme in the poetry they created, and leaves contemporary writers with a complicated legacy to negotiate. Rather than simply celebrating friendship and poetic community as nurturing and inspiring, these poets represent friendship as a kind of exhilarating, maddening contradiction, a site of attraction and repulsion, affinity and rivalry
Print Book, English, 2006
Oxford University Press, Oxford [England], 2006
Criticism, interpretation, etc
xvi, 359 pages ; 24 cm
9780195181005, 9780195388985, 019518100X, 0195388984
Situating the avant-garde in postwar America: community, individualism, and Cold War culture
Emerson, pragmatism, and the "new American poetry"
"my force is in mobility": selfhood and friendship in Frank O'Hara's poetry
Growing up with our brothers all around: John Ashbery and the interpersonal
Amiri Baraka and the poetics of turning away
"Against the speech of friends": Baraka's white friend blues
"A rainy wool Frankie and Johnny": O'Hara, Ashbery, and the paradoxes of friendship