Don Gordon: Little Known Political Poet

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Don Gordon made his name in the 1930s as a passionate and outspoken political poet, his work being published in the most prestigious American journals. In spite of his growing literary reputation he was called before the Un-American Activities Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives in September, 1951. Due to his openly communist views and his reluctance to give the committee names of fellow radical writers, Gordon was blacklisted from employment in the film industry. He devoted his time to writing poems, despite the difficulty of finding a wide audience for them. Many of Gordon's poems are suffused with themes of revolution and political activism, but this collection showcases the breadth of the subjects he addressed in his sixty years of writing, expressed with a rigorous aesthetic sensibility in a style that incorporates diverse influences, including modernism and surrealism. "Don Gordon is great," Meridel LeSueur wrote, "because he shows the vigorous and wondrous strength of the people." With this complete collection of his poems, readers can at last experience the full range of this vigorous and challenging writer.

Source: Collected Poems of Don Gordon:


The bones of defoliated trees
From some deep marrow
Are growing leaves again
In that country.
The water buffalo will not graze
Under the sick branch,
Or the young men move like panthers,
Or ever the lovely psychotic women
Smile upon them.
Nature repairs her wounds
With angry scar tissue.
She does not replace arms or eyes
Or belief in men, or innocence,
Or immanence of deities
From east or west
Or in the star clusters.
She has done penance
For the acts of felons
By the leafless and the bloodless dying
of the trees.
Now she tries to live with her grief:
Replaced; ashen; scant; fruitless
for a generation.