Poetry & Commons

BookPoetry & Commons

Poetry & Commons

Postwar and Romantic Lyric in Times of Enclosure

Poetry &..., 13


March 1st, 2022





The commons and enclosure are among the most vital ways of thinking about poetry today, posing urgent ecological and political questions about land and resource ownership and use. Poetry & Commons is the first study to read postwar and contemporary poetry through this lens, by putting it in dialogue with the Romantic experience of agrarian dispossession. Employing an innovative transhistorical structure, the book demonstrates how radical Anglophone poetries since 1960 have returned to the 'enclosure of the commons' in response to political and ecological crises. It identifies a 'commons turn' in contemporary lyric that contests the new enclosures of globalized capital and resource extraction. In lucid close readings of a rich field of experimental poetries associated with the 'British Poetry Revival', as well as from Canada and the United States, it analyses a landscape poetics of enclosure in relationship with Romantic verse. Canonical Romantic poetry by Wordsworth and Clare is understood through the fine-grain textures of the period’s vernacular and radical verse and discourse around enclosure, which the book demonstrates contain the seeds of neoliberal political economy. Engaging with the work of Anne-Lise François and Anna Tsing, Poetry & Commons theorizes commoning as marking out subsistence 'rhythms of resource', which articulate plural, irregular, and tentative relations between human and nonhuman lifeworlds.

'This is an excellent, highly original, and necessary study of poetry and radical thought. In tracing both the persistence (and permutations) of the concept of the commons alongside a probing reading of lyric poetry in the Romantic and British and North American postwar periods, Poetry & Commons makes anew the case for thinking about lyric in the neoliberal era.'
- David Farrier, Professor of Literature and the Environment, University of Edinburgh

'Daniel Eltringham’s brilliant Poetry & Commons traces the transhistorical relationship between a poetry of the common word and the continuing resistance to ongoing practices of enclosure, dispossession, and extraction. Few critics have so precisely articulated the conceptual range with which the commons is necessarily entangled: from a romantic-era politics of enclosure to contemporary ecopoetics; from land rights and the right to roam to the interdependencies of "earth’s human and nonhuman tenants"; and, ultimately, from the origins to the outputs of the Anthropocene. Throughout, Eltringham has his finger on the pulse of the poet’s temporally open practice of "commoning historical languages of resistance". Poetry & Commons constitutes a major expansion of our understanding of the literary commons.'
- Stephen Collis, Professor of English, Simon Fraser University


Author Information

Daniel Eltringham is a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow in the School of English at the University of Sheffield.