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Poetry in a Global Age$
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Jahan Ramazani

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780226730004

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226730288.001.0001

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Poetry, the Planet, and the Ecological Thought: Wallace Stevens and Beyond

Poetry, the Planet, and the Ecological Thought: Wallace Stevens and Beyond

(p.155) Chapter 7 Poetry, the Planet, and the Ecological Thought: Wallace Stevens and Beyond
Poetry in a Global Age

Jahan Ramazani

University of Chicago Press

This chapter seeks to develop an eco-cosmopolitan approach to poetry. Wallace Stevens presents a quandary for a global poetics, since his depictions of various non-European others obviously fall short of cultural pluralism. Nevertheless, this chapter discerns various global layers in his poems, including ethnography, technology, commodities, international thought and art, geography, and polyglossia. Contrary to the notion of Stevens as a quintessentially American poet, his poetry can be seen as richly evidencing and reflecting on various globalizing processes. But perhaps the most significant and distinctive of these is the apprehension of planetary totality, the wholeness of the earth. Poems such as “A Primitive like an Orb,” “The Pleasures of Merely Circulating,” and “A Planet on the Table” can be read in terms of the global imaginative capacity that Timothy Morton calls “the ecological thought,” an apprehension of enmeshment on a planetary scale. In contrast to localist and literalist kinds of ecocriticism, Stevens’s poetry manifests the ecological thought in its sonic patterning, self-referentiality, and allusiveness. This chapter concludes with a discussion of the subsequent development of an eco-cosmopolitan poetics by writers such as W. H. Auden, A. K. Ramanujan, A. R. Ammons, Lucille Clifton, Jorie Graham, and Juliana Spahr.

Keywords:   Wallace Stevens, ecological thought, eco-cosmopolitanism, planetary, globalization, W. H. Auden, A. K. Ramanujan, Jorie Graham, Juliana Spahr, Timothy Morton

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