Many of the most prominent global literary scholars, such as Franco Moretti, Pheng Cheah, and Pascale Casanova, have had little to say about poetry. But poetry—long lived and apparently ubiquitous—may have much to contribute to our rethinking of literature in an extranational frame. This introduction argues that each modern and contemporary poem should be seen not as the product of one nation, as in the conventional literary historical paradigm, or of one time, as in a strict historicism, but of multiple intersecting histories and cultures. According to William Carlos Williams, “A poem is a small (or large) machine made of words,” and even a nationalist machine made of words, techniques, and ideas, of rhythms, images, and stanzas, bears a multinationally heterogeneous array of traces. Drawing on the work of Bruno Latour, the introduction examines the complexly polytemporal, polyspatial folds within poems; these can help alert us at the micro level to the transnationalism we more often conceive at the macro level of trade, finance, migration, and instrumental communications. This book examines the transnational dimensions of modern and contemporary poems in relation to current debates over world literature, world history, translation, tourism, ecocriticism, modernism, postcolonialism, war literature, orientalism, and lyric.
Keywords: polytemporal poetics, transnational poetics, globalization, world history, twentieth-century poetry, Bruno Latour, lyric, world anglophone, postcolonial, modernism