Photo by Kate Tarlow Morgan

Photo by Kate Tarlow Morgan

UpSet Press in collaboration with re:public presents: A Special Series edited by Fred Dewey

Set against the backdrop of the Cold War, the war in Iraq, and 9/11, A Little History explores the deep politics of memory and imagination while proposing a new paradigm for American Studies.

With preface by editor Fred Dewey, Alcalay’s book places the work of major figures like Muriel Rukeyser, Charles Olson, Edward Dorn, Diane di Prima, and Amiri Baraka, in the realm of resistance and global decolonization to assert the power of poetry as a unique form of knowledge. Recognized by Edward Said as “that rare thing, a gifted prose writer and poet, and an accomplished intellectual,” Alcalay brings his blend of autobiographical and investigative scholarship to bear on this timely and important book of essays.

“A visionary writer and poet.”

—Wilson Harris

“His books are a tool for liberation.”

—Peter Lamborn Wilson

“from the warring factions is a book without questions; a book that answers itself and, in this way it is a useful and complete book for our time, a kind of text-book.”

—Fanny Howe

“There is no one better qualified to explore the meaning of today’s ‘culture wars’, locally and globally.”

—Amitav Ghosh

“Alcalay brings to any subject an acute sensitivity to writing and a sophisticated understanding of the way politics works to produce and maintain literature… Ammiel Alcalay is a unique and important figure in contemporary world literature.”

—Lynne Tillman

“It is Ammiel Alcalay’s consistent curiosity, his care concerning the world in which he lives, his determined, capable mind, that I value so much. Simply put, he is an indefatigable worker, and a brilliant one.”

—Robert Creeley

“There is in Ammiel Alcalay’s work an unabashed tenderness for the world as it is, and that makes him courageous, different.”

—Etel Adnan

Boston Review: “Strategic Interruptions: Notes on the Work of Ammiel Alcalay”


The scope of Alcalay’s writing is staggering. His most recent book, a little history(re:public/UpSet Press, 2013), places the life and work of Charles Olson against the backdrop of the Cold War and Alcalay’s personal reflections on the institutionalized production of knowledge, at once investigating the historical relationship between poetry and resistance and enacting the politics of memory and imagination. What sets Alcalay apart from so many artists, intellectuals, and activists working today is his insistence on the necessary interrelatedness of scholarly, political, and creative endeavors and the individual and collective human experiences from which they grow. This stance flies in the face of post-NAFTA America’s regime of isolation and deracination, in which consumer goods are stripped of the labor that produced them and voices from other cultures—when they are heard here at all—often arrive under the aegis of a sanitized, superficial internationalism that obscures their social and historical context.

What sets Alcalay apart from so many artists is his insistence on the interrelatedness of the scholarly, political, and creative and the human experiences from which they grow.

Cole Heinowitz

Video of Ammiel Alcalay's Lecture at SVA

Video of Ammiel Alcalay’s Lecture at SVA

Benjamin Hollander and Ammiel Alcalay Talk at Bard College, On Translation and Poetic Identity in the Age of Identity Politics, Nov. 18, 2013

More Press:

The most true quote (Below) about Ammiel Alcalay is from:

The Kids Are Reading Chaucer | Hortulus

Hero of Poets

Hero of Poets

and this excellent review of a little history

Review of a little history

Review of a little history

Ammiel Alcalay and the late Amiri Baraka (Rest in Love):

Amiri Baraka and Ammiel Alcalay Oct. 2013

Check this write-up out in Book Slut on Nov. 13, 2013:

Book Slut


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