A Transnational Poetics

A Transnational Poetics

Jahan Ramazani

Print publication date: 2013

ISBN: 9780226703442

Publisher: University of Chicago Press


Poetry is often viewed as culturally homogeneous, “stubbornly national,” in T. S. Eliot's phrase, or “the most provincial of the arts,” according to W. H. Auden. But this book uncovers the ocean-straddling energies of the poetic imagination—in modernism and the Harlem Renaissance; in post-World War II North America and the North Atlantic; and in ethnic American, postcolonial, and black British writing. Cross-cultural exchange and influence are, it argues, among the chief engines of poetic development in the twentieth- and twenty-first centuries. Reexamining the work of a wide array of poets, from Eliot, Yeats, and Langston Hughes to Elizabeth Bishop, Lorna Goodison, and Agha Shahid Ali, the author reveals the many ways in which modern and contemporary poetry in English overflow national borders and exceed the scope of national literary paradigms. Through a variety of transnational templates—globalization, migration, travel, genre, influence, modernity, decolonization, and diaspora—he discovers poetic connection and dialogue across nations and even hemispheres. Wide-ranging in scope yet rigorously focused on particulars, the book demonstrates how poetic analysis can foster an aesthetically attuned transnational literary criticism that is at the same time alert to modernity's global condition.