Once an Engineer: A Song of the Salt City

SUNY Press
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Once an Engineer is a funny, tragic, garlicky chronicle of a dozen years spent growing up on the wrong side of the tracks. The tail end of the sixties finds Joe and his younger brother, Mike, living with their divorced and unemployed father in a low-income neighborhood on the edge of Syracuse, New York, a once prosperous city now down on its luck. Mike and Joe mature under their father’s distinctively masculine tutelage, but their dreams of a better life are tempered by the harsh realities of public assistance.

When the brothers are offered the chance to attend college, they are drawn to the engineering profession, with its seductive promise of middle-class wages and social status. At the same time, their father’s trade, furniture finishing, succumbs to a new era of industrial and economic change, and as the gap between father and sons widens, they come to learn the true costs of upward mobility.

Once an Engineer tells the story of three lives rooted in the moods and lore of Central New York, and the difficulty of finding meaningful work in a world gone inexorably, technologically global.
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About the author

Joe Amato is the author of two books of literary criticism and theory, Industrial Poetics: Demo Tracks for a Mobile Culture and Bookend: Anatomies of a Virtual Self; four volumes of poetry, Pain Plus Thyme, Under Virga, Finger Exorcised, and Symptoms of a Finer Age; and a novel, Big Man with a Shovel. He is a native of Syracuse, New York.

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Additional Information

Publisher
SUNY Press
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Published on
Mar 30, 2010
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Pages
268
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ISBN
9781438428536
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Cultural Heritage
Biography & Autobiography / Personal Memoirs
Biography & Autobiography / Science & Technology
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Through a dizzying array of references to subjects ranging from engineering to poetry, on-the-job experiences in academia and industry, conflicts between working-class and intellectual labor, the privatization of universities, and the contradictions of the modern environment, Joe Amato’s Industrial Poetics mounts a boisterous call for poetry communities to be less invested in artistic self-absorption and more concerned about social responsibility.s Amato focuses on the challenges faced by American poets in creating a poetry that speaks to a public engineered into complacency by those industrial technologies, practices, and patterns of thought that we cannot seem to do without, he brings readers face to face with the conflicting realities of U.S. intellectual, academic, and poetic culture. Formally adventurous and rhetorically lively, Industrial Poetics is best compared with the intellectually exploratory, speculative, risky, polemical work of other contemporary poet-critics including Kathleen Fraser, Joan Retallack, Bruce Andrews, Susan Howe, and Allen Grossman. Amato uses an exhilarating range of structural and rhetorical strategies: conventionally developed argument, abruptly juxtaposed aphorisms, personal narrative, manifesto-like polemic, and documentary reportage. With a critic’s sharply analytical mind, a poet’s verve, and a working-class intellectual’s sense of social justice, Amato addresses the many nonliterary institutions and environments in which poetry is inextricably embedded. By connecting poetry to industry in a lively demonstration against the platitudes and habitudes of the twentieth century, Amato argues for a reenergized and socially forceful poetics---an industrial poetics, rough edges and all. Jed Rasula writes, “I can’t say I pay much attention to talk radio, but this is what I imagine it might be like if the deejay were really smart, enviably well read, yet somehow retained the snarling moxie of the am format.”
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Through a dizzying array of references to subjects ranging from engineering to poetry, on-the-job experiences in academia and industry, conflicts between working-class and intellectual labor, the privatization of universities, and the contradictions of the modern environment, Joe Amato’s Industrial Poetics mounts a boisterous call for poetry communities to be less invested in artistic self-absorption and more concerned about social responsibility.s Amato focuses on the challenges faced by American poets in creating a poetry that speaks to a public engineered into complacency by those industrial technologies, practices, and patterns of thought that we cannot seem to do without, he brings readers face to face with the conflicting realities of U.S. intellectual, academic, and poetic culture. Formally adventurous and rhetorically lively, Industrial Poetics is best compared with the intellectually exploratory, speculative, risky, polemical work of other contemporary poet-critics including Kathleen Fraser, Joan Retallack, Bruce Andrews, Susan Howe, and Allen Grossman. Amato uses an exhilarating range of structural and rhetorical strategies: conventionally developed argument, abruptly juxtaposed aphorisms, personal narrative, manifesto-like polemic, and documentary reportage. With a critic’s sharply analytical mind, a poet’s verve, and a working-class intellectual’s sense of social justice, Amato addresses the many nonliterary institutions and environments in which poetry is inextricably embedded. By connecting poetry to industry in a lively demonstration against the platitudes and habitudes of the twentieth century, Amato argues for a reenergized and socially forceful poetics---an industrial poetics, rough edges and all. Jed Rasula writes, “I can’t say I pay much attention to talk radio, but this is what I imagine it might be like if the deejay were really smart, enviably well read, yet somehow retained the snarling moxie of the am format.”
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