Platform, Rodrigo Toscano (Atelos, 2003)
A biggish book of very exciting poems. RT reinvents, revitalizes the hortatory political poem in post-Langpo idiom. That is, these rousing & very funny poems are every bit as committed to a hard-Left politics as any of the soapbox-stompers from the 1930s that Cary Nelson's written about, but Toscano's a political poet who's read & absorbed his Brecht, his Gramsci, his Frankfurt School, his Hardt & Negri. Terry Eagleton's been arguing for a decade now that "postmodernism" – & what he means by the term is so broad it's almost risible, a branch to beat whatever thinker he's dissatisfied with at the moment – is politically a failure, that the multiple ironies & cynicisms of post-70s critical discourse render their users unable to gain the firm purchase of the "real" that's necessary for meaningful political interventions. (Similar attacks have been levelled at the LangPos themselves.) RT shows that it's possible to forge a new, every exciting, & very alive political poetry precisely out of the ironies & cynicisms that have become the lingua franca of the dissolving present.
Of course, it doesn't hurt that the man's a brilliant satirist, in the best Jonathan Swift-Monty Python-South Park tradition. Nobody – ardent humorless working Leftists, quietist poets, armchair academic Marxists, the whole post-avant literary establishment, & of course the phalanx of ghoulist plutocrats who run our government & economy – comes out of Platform unscathed. But it's not a self-dissolving, foundationless satire, either, but one that forces a reader to think thru her/his own position, leaves a reader uncomfortable in the best Brechtian manner.