Catastrophe's apostrophe: The poetics of address in Frank O'Hara, Jack Spicer, and Langston Hughes
Strudensky, Andrea Lynn
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"Catastrophe's Apostrophe: The Poetics of Address in Frank O'Hara, Jack Spicer and Langston Hughes" examines the ethics of relation posited by the apostrophic address during the mid century works of three poets. Engaging with the works of critical theorists like Walter Benjamin and Jacques Derrida, this dissertation explores the ethical routes of engagement opened up through the apostrophic address. Through a close reading of Jack Spicer's After Lorca , Langston Hughes' Ask Your Mama: 12 Moods by Jazz, and selected poetry by Frank O'Hara, I argue that these works represent a poetics of resistance to the post-war ideology of egoistic individualism, moral exceptionalism, classism, and racism. O'Hara, Spicer, and Hughes all constructed a poetics of resistance towards the culture of conformity in America by employing the apostrophic address to promote a third term, an "other." In this way, these writers did not just offer a subversive response towards the cold war climate and the politics of containment, but expressed the importance of the other as the repressed voice at the heart of all hegemonic regimes.