|Author||Peter Oresick Nicholas Coles|
|Publisher||University of Illinois Press|
|Media type||Print (paperback)|
The book identifies within post-World War II American literature an emerging trend: a new poetry about mills and mines and blue-collar neighborhoods. Much of this verse was inspired by the postwar industrial prosperity of the 1950s and 1960s followed by rapid deindustrialization in the United States in the 1970s and 1980s. The anthology offers nearly two hundred poems by seventy-five poets, most of whom are of the baby boomer generation.
The collection was conceived and compiled by Peter Oresick and further developed with co-editor Nicholas Coles, both of the University of Pittsburgh. This "new work writing," argue the editors, "has its antecedents not with the proletarian literature of 1930s, but more with Walt Whitman, William Carlos Williams, the Beats, and Confessional poetry."
Working Classics is frequently used in U.S. and Canadian university courses in literature and labor history. It remains in print since its first publication in 1990 by the University of Illinois Press.
The anthology's strong critical reception and sales, as well as a prompt within a book review of Working Classics by Fred Pfeil in The Village Voice, spawned a sequel in 1995 by the same editors called For a Living: The Poetry of Work. This companion volume features poems about the nature and culture of nonindustrial work in the current Information Age or service economy, i.e. work that may be categorized as white collar, pink collar, clerical, or professional.
|Jessica Greenbaum, The Nation|
Selected Poets in Working Classics
Maggie Anderson · Antler · Robert Bly · Jim Daniels · Patricia Dobler · Stephen Dunn · Tess Gallagher · John Giorno · Donald Hall · Edward Hirsch · Richard Hugo · David Ignatow · June Jordan · Lawrence Joseph · Philip Levine · Robert Mezey · Lisel Mueller · Joyce Carol Oates · Ed Ochester · Jay Parini · Kenneth Patchen · Vern Rutsala · Michael Ryan · Gary Soto · Susan Stewart · Tom Wayman · James Wright · Robert Wrigley
- Oresick, Peter and Nicholas Coles, editors (1990). Working Classics: Poems on Industrial Life. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press. ISBN 0-252-06133-0.
- Coles, Nicholas and Peter Oresick, editors (1995). For a Living: The Poetry of Work. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press. ISBN 0-252-06410-0.