In 1967, the German philosopher Theodor Adorno remarked that ‘To write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric’.1 One might counter this arresting claim by stating that poetry is not simply an extraneous cultural ornament but a critical tool no less sophisticated and potentially useful than the social philosophy practised by Adorno and his colleagues. One might, in fact, imagine the barbarity of not writing poetry in the wake of Nazi totalitarianism and genocidal terror. Certainly, though, poetry must lend an ear to Adorno’s bold assertion and become critically aware: otherwise, the art form opens itself to charges of superfluity and lack of social import. Poetry threatens to become mere window dressing, rather than a viable participant in the creative-critical making and remaking — or ‘styling’ — of culture.
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