South of Our Selves

Mexico in the Poems of Williams, Kerouac, Corso, Ginsberg, Levertov and Hayden


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About the Book

This study examines the work of six American poets who visited Mexico in the 1950s, discussing the complex relationships between location, writing, society, history and dislocation. By interacting with Mexican culture and writing about the experience, these poets had to come to terms with the foreign as well as explore their own identities as Americans. Experiencing Mexico inspired these poets to use many different voices in their poetry, a style in opposition to the hegemony of 1950s American culture.
This study compares and contrasts the poets, particularly in terms of class, race, sexual orientation, and gender, and which strategies of “going foreign” each uses. Each chapter examines a poem or series of poems based upon a trip to Mexico. Analyzed in detail are Williams’ The Desert Music, Kerouac’s Mexico City Blues, Corso’s “Mexican Impressions” and “Puma in Chapultepec Zoo,” Ginsberg’s Siesta in Xbalba, Levertov’s “Tomatlan” and others, and Hayden’s An Inference of Mexico.

About the Author(s)

Glenn Sheldon is an assistant professor at the University of Toledo (Ohio). He lives in Toledo.

Bibliographic Details

Glenn Sheldon
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 200
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2004
pISBN: 978-0-7864-1746-9
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments     vii
Introduction: New Maps for Old Maps     1

1. William Carlos Williams     13

2. Jack Kerouac     31
3. Gregory Corso     67
4. Allen Ginsberg     91
5. Denise Levertov     123

6. Robert Hayden     147
7. Conclusion     175

Works Cited     179
Index     187

Book Reviews & Awards

“eloquent…Sheldon’s honest reading of Beat poetry is a refreshing perspective…unassuming and articulate”—; “useful insights”—The Year’s Work in English Studies; “useful”—American Literature.