Revolutionary Poetry

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Taught by Michael Tencer

Michael Tencer is a roving poet, critic, and activist. Some of his piquant writings and radio shows on politics and aesthetics can be found at

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Throughout history, revolutions and collective resistance to oppression have found inspiration and expression through poetry. Poets have played direct roles in revolutionary struggles, and their poems have expressed protest against harsh realities as well as dreams of liberation across a wide range of styles and genres.

In this class we'll consider about a dozen short poems from different times and places -- spanning Native American poetry of resistance to colonialism, to poetic slogans of the recent Arab Spring revolutions -- discussing the specific approach each poem takes in its political context, and how the models of poetic engagement presented might work in political struggles today.

Before the class we will email the selection of poems to be discussed -- including work by Amiri Baraka, Benjamin Péret, Aimé Césaire, Forough Farrokhzad, Bertolt Brecht, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Vladimir Mayakovsky. No specialized knowledge of poetry or politics is necessary -- all are welcome!

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