Through a dizzying array of references to subjects ranging from engineering to poetry, on-the-job experiences in academia and industry, conflicts between working-class and intellectual labor, the privatization of universities, and the contradictions of the modern environment, Joe Amato’s Industrial Poetics mounts a boisterous call for poetry communities to be less invested in artistic self-absorption and more concerned about social responsibility.

As Amato focuses on the challenges faced by American poets in creating a poetry that speaks to a public engineered into complacency by those industrial technologies, practices, and patterns of thought that we cannot seem to do without, he brings readers face to face with the conflicting realities of U.S. intellectual, academic, and poetic culture.

Formally adventurous and rhetorically lively, Industrial Poetics is best compared with the intellectually exploratory, speculative, risky, polemical work of other contemporary poet-critics including Kathleen Fraser, Joan Retallack, Bruce Andrews, Susan Howe, and Allen Grossman. Amato uses an exhilarating range of structural and rhetorical strategies: conventionally developed argument, abruptly juxtaposed aphorisms, personal narrative, manifesto-like polemic, and documentary reportage. With a critic’s sharply analytical mind, a poet’s verve, and a working-class intellectual’s sense of social justice, Amato addresses the many nonliterary institutions and environments in which poetry is inextricably embedded.

By connecting poetry to industry in a lively demonstration against the platitudes and habitudes of the twentieth century, Amato argues for a reenergized and socially forceful poetics—an industrial poetics, rough edges and all. Jed Rasula writes, “I can't say I pay much attention to talk radio, but this is what I imagine it might be like if the deejay were really smart, enviably well read, yet somehow retained the snarling moxie of the AM format.”

“Pioneering a viable interface between poetic practice and scholarly responsibility, Amato’s is a necessary voice in performative engagement with the labor-intensive underside of academic work. His command of vernacular locutions ranges from impressive to dizzying. Allied to such discerning critical intelligence, such proficiency has the potential to alter—and certainly refresh—the nature of scholarly discourse.”—Jed Rasula
“1. Buy it.
2. Listen up.
3. Deprofessionalize.
4. Buy a copy for a friend.
5. Write a book like this.
6. Industrial Poetics is da bomb.
7. Because the taste is what counts.”
—Charles Bernstein, author, My Way: Speeches and Poems and Shadowtime
“The second ‘Track’ (chapter) of this wild, hilarious, learned, irreverent, energetic, nasty, and touching book is called ‘Technical Ex-Communication: How a Former Professional Engineer Becomes a Former English Professor.’ And that’s what Industrial Poetics is all about: working-class aspirants for middle-class ‘professional’ goodies, academic and journalistic hypocrisies, community failures, and the general all-around mayhem we experience at the turn of the twenty-first century. A collage of techniques from anaphoric verse to slangy dialogue, from pop song to scholarly reference, Industrial Poetics will make you laugh and sometimes cry with exasperation. Can life on the assembly line and in the ivory tower really be this absurd? Answer, oh yes, and then some.”—Marjorie Perloff

Construction Note
How to Tell the Difference between Life and Art: A Grant Proposal (Take 1)
Track 1
Industrial Poetics: A Chautauqua Multiplex in Fits and Starts
How to Tell the Difference between Life and Art: A Grant Proposal (Take 2)
Track 2
Technical Ex-Communication: How a Former Professional Engineer Becomes a Former English Professor
How to Tell the Difference between Life and Art: A Grant Proposal (Take 3)
Track 3
Labor, Manufacturing, Workplace, Community: Four Conclusions in Search of an Ending

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Publication Details

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Pages, art, trim size
226 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4 inches