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This chapter shows how the derangement of the senses and isolation of the individual that are idealised modes of Romantic and post-Romantic verse are hideously intensified in the contemporary supermax. Its focus is on solitary confinement in US prisons as a way of preventing the formation of solidarities. As such, it explores the conditions for producing poetry in prison: different models of the workshop, reform and revolution, and imprisoned writers’ relationships to the carceral and poetic institution. It discusses the trope of incommunicability in prison writing. It discusses the psychic and physical effects of life ‘in the hole’, drawing on writings by numerous well-known and lesser-known imprisoned poets. It ends with the claim that it is the contemporary abolitionist movement that is the true inheritor and defender of the Romantic imagination.
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