Why do modern poets quote dictionaries in their poems? How has the tape recorder changed the poet's voice? What has shopping to do with Gertrude Stein's aesthetics? These and other questions form the core of this text, a study of modern poetry as a material medium. The author argues that literary materiality has been dominated by an ideology of modernism, based on the ideal of the autonomous work of art, which has hindered our ability to read poety as a socially critical medium. By focusing on writing as a palimpset involving numerous layers of materiality - from the holograph manuscript to the printed book - the author exposes modern poetry's engagement with larger historical forces.