Aesthetics Contra “Identity” in Contemporary Poetry Studies
The Introduction begins with a discussion about the interplay between racial subjectivity and poetic writing. This interplay depends crucially upon paying close attention to the language and structures of the individual. This praxis-based critical argumentation, in which the poems themselves suggest theoretical orientations, resists abstract generalizations that can oversimplify (and render reductive and one-dimensional) arguments about racial subjectivity and minority poetry. Following this discussion, an overview of subsequent chapters, and the poets featured therein (including Li-Young Lee, John Yau, Marilyn Chin, Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, and Pamela Lu) is provided. Each poet’s work is considered in turn through detailed readings, a formal crux or mode (metaphor, irony, parody, the subjunctive mood) whose deployment is central to his or her poetic project and whose structure articulates the poet’s working out of a larger political (in the broadest sense of that term) and/or poetic concern or question.
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