Skip to content

“Rather Than Invent a World, I Want a Different Means to Understand This One”: Jena Osman’s Conjugations of Capitalist Crisis

Julia Sattler

Pages 189 - 204



This publication is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons License Attribution - NonCommercial - NoDerivatives 4.0.

Creative Commons License

This paper provides a reading of Jena Osman’s poetry, specifically her volumes "The Network" (2010) and "Corporate Relations" (2014), as capitalist crisis poetry. Intertwining the self and the nation, the self and capitalism, and the self and the financial market’s discourses of profit and profitability, Osman’s writing shows that neoliberalism has taken over every dimension of life. Using the analogy of the conjugation, the analysis provided here discusses how Osman’s explorative kind of poetry does not only generate a new “language” to talk about the ongoing financial crisis but, indeed, that it opens different ways of understanding capitalism’s origins and forms on the national and international scales, including its unspoken and hidden histories, such as racial capitalism and the long-term consequences of colonization.

Key Words: capitalism; poetry; corporate America; power; exploration

1 Bloomfield, Mandy. Archaeopoetics. Word, Image, History. Tuscaloosa: U of Alabama P, 2016. Print.

2 Boyer, Stephen, Filip Marinovich, and the People of OWP. Occupy Wall Street Poetry Anthology. Occupy Wall Street Library. Wordpress, 17 Nov. 2011. Web. 30 Mar. 2023.

3 Broqua, Vincent. “Practice-Based Research as Activated Inquiry.” Artistic Research and Literature. Ed. Corinna Caduff and Tan Wälchi. Paderborn: Fink, 2019. 113-24. Print.

4 “Cornel West on Occupy Wall Street: It’s the Makings of a U.S. Autumn Responding to the Arab Spring.” Democracy Now, 29 Sept. 2011. Web. 19 Mar. 2023.

5 Davidson, Michael. “Introduction: American Poetry, 2000-2009.” Contemporary Literature 52.4 (2011): 597-629. Web. 19 Mar. 2023.

6 Debord, Guy-Ernest. “Introduction to a Critique of Urban Geography.” The Situationist International Text Library. Web. 19 Mar. 2023.

7 Derksen, Jeff. Annihilated Time: Poetry and Other Politics. Vancouver: Talon, 2009. Print.

8 Hühn, Peter. “The Problem of Fictionality and Factuality in Lyric Poetry.” Narrative 22.2 (2014): 155-68. Web. 19 Mar. 2023.

9 Hunter, Walt. “Contemporary Poetry and Capitalism.” American Literary History 31.4 (2019): 860-69. Web. 19 Mar. 2023.

10 Indiviglio, Daniel. “5 Reasons Why Occupy Wall Street Won’t Work.” The Atlantic. Atlantic Monthly Group, 3 Oct. 2011. Web. 19 Mar. 2023.

11 Knight, Peter. “Economic Humanities: Literature, Culture and Capitalism.” The Fictions of American Capitalism: Working Fictions and the Economic Novel. Ed. Jaques-Henri Coste and Vincent Dussol. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2020. 335-55. Print.

12 Leary, John Patrick. Keywords. The New Language of Capitalism. Chicago, IL: Haymarket, 2018. Print.

13 Leong, Michael. Contested Records: The Turn to Documents in Contemporary North American Poetry. Iowa City: U of Iowa P, 2020. Print.

14 Milne, Heather. Poetry Matters: Neoliberalism, Affect, and the Posthuman in Twenty-First Century North American Feminist Poetics. Iowa City: U of Iowa P, 2018. Print.

15 Osman, Jena. Corporate Relations. Providence, RI: Burning Deck, 2014. Print.

16 ---. The Network. Albany, NY: Fence, 2010. Print.

17 Park, K-Sue. “Race, Innovation, and Financial Growth: The Example of Foreclosure.” Histories of Racial Capitalism. Ed. Destin Jenkins and Justin Leroy. New York: Columbia UP, 2021. 28-51. Print.

18 Petras, James, and Henry Veltmeyer. “The Global Capitalist Crisis: Whose Crisis, Who Profits?” International Review of Modern Sociology 38.2 (2012): 199-219. JSTOR. Web. 19 Mar. 2023

19 Poetry Foundation. “Jena Osman.” 30 Mar. 2022. Web. 31 Mar. 2022.

20 “Quipu.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 19 Mar. 2023.

21 Ramazani, Jahan. Poetry and Its Others: News, Prayer, Song, and the Dialogue of Genres. Chicago, IL: U of Chicago P, 2013. Print.

22 Reed, Anthony. Freedom Time: The Poetics and Politics of Black Experimental Writing. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins UP, 2014. Print.

23 Steinhauer, Jillian. “Occupying Poetry with a People’s Anthology.” Hyperallergic. Web. 19 Mar. 2023.

24 Vicuña, Cecilia. Introduction. CeciliaVicuñ Web. 31 Mar. 2022.

25 Weissman, Robert. “‘Occupy’ Movement Purposely Has No Single, Set Demand.” US News. Internet Archive, 19 Oct. 2011. Web. 19 Mar. 2023.

26 Wrighton, John. Ethics and Politics in Modern American Poetry. New York: Routledge, 2012. Print.


Export Citation