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Modernist Inflections, Postcolonial Directions

Modernist Inflections, Postcolonial Directions

(p.101) Chapter 4 Modernist Inflections, Postcolonial Directions
Poetry in a Global Age
Jahan Ramazani
University of Chicago Press

What is the relation between two of the most significant areas of twentieth-century literary achievement, namely modernism and postcolonial poetry? How does postcolonial poetry converge with and diverge from modernism? How do postcolonial poems understand their relation to modernism? And what literary historical models are most productive for mapping their relationship? To approach these questions, this chapter alternates between two vantage points: it explores the relation between postcolonial poetry and modernism both intrinsically, from within self-theorizing poems by Karen Press, Lorna Goodison, and Daljit Nagra, and extrinsically, from the higher altitude of conceptual paradigms for global literary circulation under modernity. That is, it closely examines poems that thematize the relation between postcolonial poetry and modernism, and it reconsiders the global analytic models that can schematize that relationship. It tests the models of diffusionism, writing back, singular modernity, and indigenization against the poetry. It argues that postcolonial metamodernist works—poems that reflect on their modernist inheritances—are especially helpful in probing this relationship, one of the most important for understanding modern and contemporary poetry in a global frame.

Keywords:   modernist poetry, postcolonial poetry, diffusionism, indigenization, singular modernity, writes back, Karen Press, Lorna Goodison, Daljit Nagra

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