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Friday July 25, 2014 in Books
Between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries the majority of the English common lands were enclosed, by decree and by force, depriving communities of their independence and self-sufficiency. The resistance to capitalism’s “primitive accumulation,” registered in recurring peasant revolts and nighttime attacks on hedges and fences, failed to stem the tide of what we now call “privatization” – but it spilled over into Romanticism’s own advocacy of a kind of literary commons. Underground in poetry since the nineteenth century, the fight against enclosure resurfaces today amidst continuing accumulation and a renascent sense of the commons under globalization.
In The Commons we wander the English countryside with the so-called mad peasant poet John Clare, pick wild fruit with Henry David Thoreau, and comb the Lake District with a host of authors of Romantic guides and tours, undermining William Wordsworth’s proprietary claim to the region. Somewhere along the way Robert Frost’s wall falls down, the Zapatistas make their appearance, and Gerrard Winstanley reclaims the
earth as a “Common Treasury.”
This second edition includes the essay “Of Blackberries and the Poetic Commons.”
ISBN 13: 9780889229150 | ISBN 10: 0889229155
6 W x 8.5 H inches | 152 pages
$17.95 CAN / $17.95 US
Backlist | Poetry
QUOTES OF NOTE
“Words like beauty, pleasure, and liberty do not sound hackneyed. Instead, their writing sounds synonymous with persistence. Collis is slightly off-step/beat, just out of range of any comfortable assumption, and a good shuffle away from clear understanding. This is not poetry that leads, but includes. It is a welcome philosophical divergence in popular culture.”
– Prairie Fire Review of Books
About the ContributorsStephen Collis
Stephen Collis is the author of five books of poetry, including the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize winning On the Material (Talonbooks, 2010) and three parts of the on-going “Barricades Project”: Anarchive (New Star, 2005), The Commons (Talonbooks, 2008, 2014), and To the Barricades (Talonbooks, 2013). An activist and social critic, his writing on the Occupy movement is collected in Dispatches from the Occupation (Talonbooks, 2012).
We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Canada Council for the Arts; the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund (CBF); and the Province of British Columbia through the British Columbia Arts Council for our publishing activities.