Muriel Rukeyser and Documentary: The Poetics of Connection by Catherine Gander

By Catherine Gander

Offers a brand new viewpoint at the documentary range of Muriel Rukeyser's paintings and impacts. This learn of twentieth-century American poet Muriel Rukeyser explores the a number of avenues of her 'poetics of connection' to bare a profound engagement with the both intertextual documentary style. It examines formerly neglected photograph narratives, poetry, prose and archival fabric and demonstrates an everlasting discussion among the poet's relational aesthetics and documentary's equally interdisciplinary and artistic method of the realm. through contemplating the resources of documentary in Rukeyser's paintings, the examine offers perception into her guiding poetic ideas, situating her as a necessary determine within the background of twentieth-century American literature and tradition, and as a pioneering character within the improvement of yank stories.

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At the end of the review, Rukeyser argued that Land of the Free failed to confront the issues it raised, and thereby failed to bring the reader face to face with an immediate social problem. Furthermore, the book highlighted the problem of the artistic, equal presentation of image and text. indd 31 30/11/2012 13:41 32 Muriel Rukeyser and Documentary of balance’ between the two, Rukeyser argued for ‘the cleanest, sharpest, most alive words we know to meet these faces and these scenes’. MacLeish had admittedly recognised the ‘stubborn inward livingness’ of the photographs but had not responded with words that matched their visual vigour.

Bourke-White, Portrait of Myself, p. 137; Stott, Documentary Expression, pp. 219–23. 61. Rothstein, ‘Direction in the Picture Story’, p. 1357. 62. Stryker, ‘Documentary Photography’, p. 1365. 63. , p. 1365. 64. Rothstein, ‘Direction’, p. 1357. 65. Rotha, Documentary Film, p. 131. 66. Rothstein, Documentary Photography, p. xix. 67. , p. 34. 68. Henry Luce, quoted in Rothstein’s Documentary Photography, p. 79. 69. , p. 116. Beaumont Newhall commenting on Dorothea Lange and Paul Taylor’s An American Exodus.

13 Arguably ‘the period’s leading arbiter of taste’,14 it seems likely that Cowley’s approbation of the book aided its critical acclaim. indd 24 30/11/2012 13:41 The Photo-text 25 York Post article on the fashionable Bourke-White, who by this time was ‘one of the highest paid women in America’. Discussing her tenant farmer photographic subjects, Bourke-White is quoted thus: ‘They seem to live on snuff and religion . . ’17 After nearly 400 pages of text in which Agee endeavours not to exploit or demean the tenant farmers whose lives he is documenting, this frivolous article seems to reveal Bourke-White as crass, insensitive and exploiting the lower classes for profit.

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