My fifth book, American Urban Poetics: linestraffickingimageslikestreets, a critical poetics work, was published in 2010.
… an entirely new approach to literary study, something really new and different …close readings informed by principles regarding the links between language and contemporary urban society that resonated strongly with her audience. Her aesthetic analysis of forms and language of works of selected contemporary Chicano and African American poets made a powerful and persuasive case for the artistic qualities of texts that others could easily overlook. Walker is an original who is working a literary landscape that is one she has discovered and one for which she designed at UC Berkeley a Ph.D dissertation that connects Social Geography, American Literature, Comparative Literature and Ethnic Studies. In American Urban Poetics she is bringing together theories, texts, and social contexts in ways that draw upon Donna Haraway’s understanding of “situated knowledge” which enables her to explore the ways in which things are constantly shifting in relation to others. In the contemporary urban setting, the artist does not capture and hold people, objects, ideas, and words in place but lets us see them in moving relation to each other …
–Emory Elliott, University of California
UC Berkeley Doctoral Dissertation Abstract (Walker, Anne Frances, Ph.D., UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY, 2007, 206 pages; 3275643)
American Urban Poetics: linestraffickingimageslikestreets reads American culture through the poetry of its cities. The cities can be read as reflecting narratives of multiple differences between, and syntheses of, a variety of divergent and mainstream currents, acting through conflict and cross-fertilisation to form the broader identification of a single identity. Poetry, in a way phrased by Aristotle as mimesis, replicates patterns of experience. Baudelaire described his innovations in prose poetry “it is by frequenting the spaces of the large cities that this obsessive poetic ideal arises. By coming into contact with the numerous interrelations between things that this poetic shape comes into being.” To paraphrase some of this intellectual syntax; it is the numerous interrelations between poetic and social referents reflecting the human and physical interchanges of the city which sets much of the poetry.
American Urban Poetics: linestraffickingimageslikestreets reads the physical landscapes from poems, social studies texts, literary criticism and theory, interviews, and histories. But more importantly American Urban Poetics: linestraffickingimageslikestreets reads the complexities—of narrative perspectives, integration of narrative device with content landscape, social identifications, cultural icon use, desires to escape, and multiple sites of cultural heritage which locate narrator’s present tense in a complicated grid—that unify and intersect, like the Oakland maze (of freeways), to perform an urban poetic. The dissertation deals primarily with urban poetry of Walt Whitman, Adrienne Rich, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Lorna Cervantes. It looks at the visual urban poetics of Wayne Thiebaud’s cityscapes in terms of visual representation. The sections are as follows: “Remembering Something You Knew/Ruby Slippers/Thread of Comment,” “City of Orgies,” “Freeways/Schism: Visual Representation of Contemporary Urban Poetics,” and “In The Strange Fields Of This City: The Contemporary Moment.” Jane Jacobs’s readings of organised and disorganised complexity offer ways of understanding both the city and the poetry. The manuscript opens with a portion of Andrea Adolph’s “You Ask What I Fear,” circa 1992, Oakland, California.
dissertation abstract: American urban poetics: Linestraffickingimageslikestreets