Anxious Corporals by Alan Morrison (Smokestack Books)

Tears in the Fence

One thing many of us love about small-press poetry is that unlike most textual production, it’s not written under the weather eye of capitalist power or for material gain. The same generally goes for non- or pre-professional academic writing, so there’s at least one area of commonality for the dissertation-poem, an infrequent fusion whose Western origins nonetheless stretch back at least to Aratus and Nicander.

As a dissertation, this book excerpts in detail from a small number of classic studies: David Lockwood’sThe Blackcoated Worker(1958) on the culture and politics of clerks; Geoffrey Mortimer’sThe Blight of Respectability(1897) on respectability and villadom; MacKenzie and Silver’sAngels in Marble(1968) on working class conservatives; Ken Worpole’sDockers and Detectives(1983) on popular reading; and especially Richard Hoggart’sThe Uses of Literacy(1957) on the effects of manufactured mass culture.

What links them all is a loose thesis about the…

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