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Poetry and Its OthersNews, Prayer, Song, and the Dialogue of Genres$
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Jahan Ramazani

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780226083735

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226083421.001.0001

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A Dialogic Poetics

A Dialogic Poetics

Poetry and the Novel, Theory, and the Law

(p.1) 1 A Dialogic Poetics
Poetry and Its Others

Jahan Ramazani

University of Chicago Press

This chapter argues that poetry is vibrantly dialogic, a quality usually reserved for the novel. It proposes a “dialogic poetics” that would combine analysis of poetry’s interplay with other genres, in Mikhail Bakhtin’s sense of “dialogic,” and genre-specific analysis of poetry as poetry, in Roman Jakobson’s sense of “poetics.” In the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, poetry metabolizes a variety of discursive forms, and this chapter focuses on three: the novel, theory, and the law. Ever since poetry lost its literary preeminence to the novel, it has sought ways both to assimilate, and to differentiate itself from, novelistic realism, plot, and character. Similarly, it has borrowed aspects of theory and philosophy, while showing poetry’s forms, figurations, and visual materiality to diverge from these abstract discourses. It has also recognized itself in the precision and narrative structures of the law, even as it has separated its polyphony and multifariousness from what it sometimes represents as the law’s narrow rationalism, its binary logic. In readings of poets from W. B. Yeats to Christopher Okigbo, NourbeSe Philip, and Lorna Goodison, the chapter traces poetry in the act of defining itself situationally and relationally, as it incorporates, and contends with, other discourses.

Keywords:   poetry, dialogic, modern and contemporary, poetry and the novel, poetry and theory, poetry and law, Christopher Okigbo, W. B. Yeats, M. NourbeSe Philip, Lorna Goodison

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