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Working Words: Punching the Clock and Kicking Out the Jams Paperback – October 19, 2010
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Work is a defining element in the American ethos, along with what may seem like its opposite, freedom. The ladder up from poverty and oppression, work can also be an instrument of psychological and intellectual impoverishment and tyranny. The ethics and injustices of work, and the heroism of the labor movement, have long inspired writers. Now, in this watershed time when so many technological, geopolitical, and financial forces are eradicating American jobs and dismantling the old blue-collar world, writer and activist Liebler presents a mammoth, high-voltage anthology of American poems, songs, memoirs, and fiction about work and working-class lives. After a rousing introduction, Liebler reaches back to the late-nineteenth century and ventures into our digital present to assemble a unique chorus of voices and array of perspectives. Here are the clarion words of Woody Guthrie, Clifford Odets, Dorothy Day, Philip Levine, Li-Young Lee, Carlos Cortez, Wanda Coleman, and Bonnie Jo Campbell. Poet and activist Ed Sanders sums it up in a tribute to the Wobblies (the Industrial Workers of the World), when he writes, “Seize Power & Sing.” --Donna Seaman
Unabashedly political. Tea-partiers beware. Working Words delivers more than 500 pages of unadulterated and unabridged working-class word art. . . . A heavy anthology . . . which suits the mission of Working Words just fine.”Detroit Metro Times
In this watershed time when so many technological, geopolitical, and financial forces are eradicating American jobs and dismantling the old blue-collar world, writer and activist Liebler presents a mammoth, high-voltage anthology of American poems, songs, memoirs, and fiction about work and working-class lives.-Booklist
"The value of an encyclopedic book like this one is that readers get a flavor for how writers have told their personal stories of working-class existence through multiple literary forms. The poems, songs, and stories are meant not just to celebrate the written form but also to speak to the importance of how creative writing contributes to the lives of the poor and working class."Labor Studies Journal
Top Customer Reviews
From the perceptive metaphors for working class-struggle of Caroline Maun ("The Houseplant," "The Abdication of the Bees") to Mariela Griffor's haunting penetration of the psyches of those who would do anything to claw their way to a sort-of success ("Boys") to Anca Vlasopolous's nightmare vision of the American dream gone askew ("Lakeshore Drives") to Liebler's own searing depictions of working-class struggle ("On the Scrap," "Making It Right"), this book is loaded with plenty of meat for the multitude of Americans who must work for a living to chew over. WORKING WORDS is a testament of working America and should be taught in classrooms and read aloud by huddled masses at trash-can fires for generations to come.