In December 2020, we published a special issue of The Journal of Working-Class Studies: the Working-Class Poetry Issue. Featuring poems about factory working conditions, working as a garbage collector, as well as the experiences of Indigenous Australian and queer Arab working-class poets, the issue also offers several book reviews and essays about working-class art, culture, and poetry.
Editors Sarah Attfield (University of Technology Sydney), Liz Guiffre (University of Technology Sydney), and Jen Vernon (Sierra College) write of the issue:
WORKING-CLASS POETRY PLAYS WITH LANGUAGE AND OFTEN UTILISES A WORKING-CLASS VERNACULAR. THERE MIGHT BE SLANG OR CODE-SWITCHING BETWEEN LANGUAGES AND THERE WILL BE THE RHYTHM OF EVERYDAY SPEECH. TO ENHANCE OUR COMMUNICATION, WE MIGHT NEED TO DEVELOP AN UPDATEABLE GLOSSARY OF KEY-TERMS AS MANY USE VERNACULAR EXPRESSIONS TO SAY WHAT THEY MEAN, BEAUTIFULLY. AND THE EVERYDAY OFTEN DOMINATES WORKING-CLASS POETRY. POEMS ABOUT WORK, ABOUT HOME, ABOUT FAMILY REVEAL MUCH ABOUT HOW CLASS WORKS. THESE POEMS DON’T RELY ON ABSTRACT IDEAS – THEY GROUND THEM IN PALPABLE EXPERIENCE AND REVEAL THE CONCRETE, THE SPECIFIC AND THE SMALL DETAILS THAT SPEAK VOLUMES ABOUT WHAT IT IS LIKE TO REALLY BE WORKING CLASS.
Past-president Michelle M. Tokarczyk , author of Bronx Migrations and The House I’m Running From, has a new poem, “Philomela in the Rooms,” published in the feminist literary collective, Writers Resist.
Professor of English at Heartland Community College in Normal, Illinois and WCSA President, Cherie Rankin’s poem, “Waiting” was published in Labor: Studies in Working-Class History, Volume 15:3, in September 2018.