In liberal political economy, voice (voting, complaining, etc.) and exit (dissociating, boycotting, etc.) are the two primary feedback mechanisms for improving large organizations. When it comes to the political state, however, exit is off the table: no one leaves the state, so dissenters must articulate their dissatisfaction within systems of representation. For any politics opposed to the state, voice is all one has. This essay reads Juliana Spahr’s This Connection of Everyone with Lungs (2005) and Well Then There Now (2011) and Nathaniel Mackey’s Splay Anthem (2006) as exemplars of an impetus in contemporary American poetry to enable exit from the state. However, this project inevitably fails, and the poetics of exit resorts to a renewed voice. Rather than a complaint addressed to authority, these poets’ voiced demand for exit now forms the potential basis of new political collectivities, people joined by a shared desire to leave the state.

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