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Introduction. Poetry after Translation: Cultural Circulation and the Transferability of Form in Modern Transatlantic Poetry This book studies the ways in which the circulation of modern poetry and poetics is articulated by the translation of various poetic traditions and forms across the diverse spatiotemporal realm of mediation constituted by the Atlantic Ocean. By examining how translation, broadly understood as an interlingual, literary, and transcultural practice, is closely related to the transatlantic circulation of modern poetics, I develop a multilingual critical approach to the study of transnational poetry. Another central aim of this book is to analyze how the literary history of modern poetry—traditionally produced within mononational and monolingual frameworks—is altered by a comparative approach that incorporates different languages, poetic traditions, and cultures connected by the heterogeneous geopolitical space of the Atlantic Ocean. My analysis explores various ways in which key modern transatlantic poets attempt through their work to bridge differing but closely interconnected poetic traditions at the temporal juncture between colonialism and the postcolonial era, and how their poetry encourages us to rethink the literary history of modern poetry based on a transatlantic “literary field,” using Pierre Bourdieu’s term, that is simultaneously multilingual, hemispheric, and transcontinental. One of the key premises of this book is that the critical category of Anglo-American “modernism” does not account for the overlapping modern literary traditions that at times coexist within a multilingual and transnational framework across the Atlantic—among them belated forms of romanticism and symbolism, various transnational strands of 2 / introduction modernist poetics (Spanish American, Lusophone, Anglo-American), diverse avant-garde movements, and different manifestations of the selfconsciously experimental forms from the 1950s and ‘60s traditionally associated with the category of the postmodern. Owing to these overlapping poetic forms and traditions, and the differing experiences of modernity associated with them since the late nineteenth century, I have chosen to use the term modern poetry as opposed to the label modernist poetry for the multilingual analysis of modern transatlantic poetics outside of the monolingual framework of Anglo-American literature. As Kevin Dettmar and Mark Wollaeger have recently stated in a different context, “if modernism is simply, as some have argued, the expressive dimension of modernity, and if modernity itself is defined very broadly, the utility of the term modernist, as opposed to, say, modern, would seem to be in question” (Dettmar and Wollaeger, xiv). This book therefore questions and rethinks the theoretical paradigm of Anglo-American “modernism” based on the transnational, interlingual, and transhistorical features of the work of key modern poets writing on both sides of the Atlantic—namely, the Portuguese Fernando Pessoa; the Chilean Vicente Huidobro; the Spaniard Federico García Lorca; the San Francisco–based poets Jack Spicer, Robert Duncan, and Robin Blaser; the Barbadian Kamau Brathwaite; and the Brazilian brothers Haroldo and Augusto de Campos. Contemporary scholarship in the areas of modern poetry and poetics emphasizes the need to transcend local and national categories in the analysis of literary and cultural production. A particularly important recent work in the field is Jahan Ramazani’s A Transnational Poetics, winner of the Harry Levin Prize awarded by the American Comparative Literature Association in 2011. Ramazani’s book “argues for a reconceptualization of twentieth and twenty-first-century poetry studies,” in order to account for what he refers to as the “circuits of poetic connection and dialogue across political and geographic borders and even hemispheres, of examining cross-cultural and cross-national exchanges, influences and confluences in poetry” (Ramazani, x). Although Ramazani ’s A Transnational Poetics successfully rearticulates the study of twentieth-century and contemporary Anglophone poetry by widening the field of poetry studies beyond a national paradigm, it does so within an essentially monolingual framework. Ramazani’s critical effort to transcend the mononational works well for the study of poetry originally written in English; however, its monolingual methodological framework is more problematic as a potential model for a wider study of “cross-cultural and cross-national exchanges” that could be applicable to introduction / 3 other geopolitical areas where English does not necessarily operate as a vernacular or literary language. Curiously, Ramazani cites the “specificities of language” and the “language specificity of poetry” as reasons for excluding from his study both poetry written in other languages and the concept of translation as a form of cross-cultural exchange: Still a primary reason for drawing a somewhat artificial boundary around poems in English is that, simply put, in poetry, more than perhaps in any other literary genre, the specificities of...


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