“Wide as Targes Let Them Be,” or, How a Poem Is a Barricade
Reflecting on the proliferation in recent left-wing poetry of figures of the barricade, this chapter ponders the relationship between poetry and the “linguistic commons,” or the commons of language as such. Rather than construing the communist qualities of poetry in terms of its explicit ideological purpose, or its participation in direct anti-capitalist action, it is proposed that poetry is communist to the extent that it works as a prophylactic or barricade, protecting the commons of language from the predations and enclosures of private property relations. That language can be privatized, and with it the very wherewithal for socially critical thought and the building blocks of class consciousness, is historically obvious, as is the evolving function of poetry as an apotropaic anathema of and resistance to the logic of privatization. Various contemporary poets are read for their work in this direction.