Taking Meredith McGill’s concept of the ‘culture of reprinting’ as a starting point, I will explore the ways in which newspaper poetry challenges current conceptions of Civil War literature. This paper introduces the idea of ‘improvised’ war literature and discusses its implications in a case-study of Robert Hamilton’s weekly Anglo-African newspaper during the period 1863-65. Hamilton and his editorial associates published original and selectively-reprinted poetry in this neglected New York title; I argue that verse played a crucial part in the Anglo-African’s enlistment campaign, and that soldiers and civilians alike engaged with newspaper verse as part of ‘a tradition of social dialogue and debate’ upon which community maintenance rested.1
1 Paula Bernat Bennett, Poets in the Public Sphere: The Emancipatory Project of American Women’s Poetry, 1800-1900 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2003), p. 5.
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