Bell, Vereen. Robert Lowell: Nihilist As Hero. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1983. Williamson, Allen. Pity the Monsters: The Political Vision of Robert Lowell. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1974.
Yenser, Stephen. Circle to Circle: The Poetry of Robert Lowell. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1975.
LOWENFELS, WALTER (1897-1976) Walter Lowenfels is perhaps most recognized as the editor of poetry anthologies, such as Poets of Today (1964) and Where Is Vietnam? (1967). These collections introduced many new voices into the poetry landscape and cemented poetry's value as political speech in the 1960s and 1970s. Equally important are his own 12 collections of poetry, the best known of which is Some Deaths (1965). His work as an editor and author share themes of opposition to oppression and a commitment to poetic experimentation. Lowenfels's work emerges out of MODERNISM.
Lowenfels was born in New York City. He published his first collection of poetry, Episodes and Epistles in 1925 and fled to Paris the following year to pursue a writing career. Following the publication of Steel 1937 (1938), Lowenfels did not write poetry for the next 15 years. During this period he edited the Daily Worker, a Communist newspaper based in Philadelphia. His association with the Communist Party led to charges in 1953 of conspiring to overthrow the government (in 1957 the charges were overturned due to lack of evidence). Lowenfels, who had resumed writing poetry during his trial and subsequent incarceration, marked his return to the world of poetry with the publication of The Prisoners (1957). It was during this period that he began editing anthologies of avant-garde poetry.
Lowenfels's early poems owe a great debt to modernist poets, such as T. S. eliot. Images and themes that appear in work from throughout his career are those of industry, commerce, and the struggle of labor against oppression. His middle and later poems are often characterized by wordplay, social commentary, and allusions to contemporary and historical events. An exemplary poem from Lowenfels's middle period is "Steel 1937" (1938), whose title refers to efforts to unionize small steel producers. He writes that beneath the surface of the earth "coal and iron lie and the men. Scratch it and you'll find / a geography of lies."
Lowenfels is notable for playing a role in many historically significant artistic groups in the 20th century. Beginning his career as an American exile in Paris and later becoming a McCarthy-era target, Lowenfels went on to shape the landscape for the next generation of avant-garde poets.
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