Iconic political speeches are some of the best remembered and most repeated passages in contemporary English language. Especially in the United States of America, what child doesn’t know Abraham Lincoln's “Fourscore and seven years ago..." or Roosevelt's "The only thing we have to fear..."?
Taking as its source text Barack Obama's campaign speech from March 18, 2008, A More Perfect [ by Jimmy McInnes acts as a poetic translation of the rhetorical devices often used in political speeches. Like poetry, the campaign speech depends heavily upon the manipulation of language—the ways in which words are able to strategically twist intention and distract the eye. McInnes's poetry exposes the inner workings of the political speech, as a genre of text as premeditated as any work of poetry or fiction.
A More Perfect [ blends both political and formal linguistic concerns, garnering comparisons to Jena Osman's Corporate Relations and Alice Oswald's Memorial in their negotiation of source texts. Readers with an interest in language, linguistics, and rhetoric, and those with a particular interest in political themes and formal innovation, will relish this entertaining and culturally poignant read.
Praise for A More Perfect [
Barack Obama’s eloquent and iconic 2008 speech on race, “A More Perfect Union,” is the master text underlying Jimmy McInnes’s ingenious poem. In the course of laying bare the devices of political rhetoric, McInnes presents an intricate lattice of tropes, formulas, gestures, and contexts. A More Perfect [ reads like a performance theory handbook, a poet’s theater script, and a grammar manual, all rolled into one concatenating barrel of tricks.Charles Berstein