- Author:Stephen Collis
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- Languages:English (Unknown), English (Original Language), English (Published)
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- Dimensions (in):9 x 6.3 x 0.4
- Publication Date:May 15, 2008
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Between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries, most of the English common lands were enclosedÂtaken, by force, out of the hands of local collective use and privatized. The resistance to capitalismâs Âprimitive accumulation,â registered in recurring peasant revolts, failed to stem this tide of what we now call ÂprivatizationâÂbut it spilt over into Romanticismâs own advocacy of a kind of literary commons. Underground in Âthe literaryâ since the nineteenth century, the fight against enclosure resurfaces today amidst continuing capitalist accumulations 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, just escaped from an Essex asylum and walking the more than eighty miles to his home in Helpston; we pick wild fruit with anarchist Henry David Thoreau, also newly escaped from jail (for not paying his poll tax); and we comb the English Lake District, undermining William Wordsworthâs proprietary claim upon it, with a host of authors of Romantic Guides and Tours.
Resisting enclosure with each word, tearing down (intellectual) propertyâs fencing, wandering in search of new commons, new spaces outside propertyâs exclusive and excluding domainÂThe Commons veers in and out of history to find spaces of linguistic hope. What we have named, in less inspired moments, Âallusion,â Âborrowing,â or even (pretentiously) Âintertextualityâ is just this fact that poetry proves again and again: our languages are common. Shared. Un-enclosable.
The Commons is another installment of what Collis has called (half in jest) ÂThe Barricades ProjectâÂa broadly based, historically ranging test of the old adage that Âpoetry is the revolutionary act par excellence.â It includes Anarchive (2005) and will eventually continue in The Red Album. The Commons includes an introduction to ÂThe Barricades Project,â written by Collisâ collaborators Alfred Noyes and Ramon Fernandez.
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