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Poetry in a Global Age

Ideas, culture, and capital flow across national borders with unprecedented speed, but we tend not to think of poems as taking part in globalization. Jahan Ramazani shows that poetry has much to contribute to understanding literature in an extra-national frame. Indeed, the globality of poetry, he argues, stands to energize the transnational turn in the humanities.

Poetry in a Global Age builds on Ramazani’s award-winning A Transnational Poetics, a book that had a catalytic effect on literary studies. Ramazani broadens his lens to discuss modern and contemporary poems not only in relation to world literature, war, and questions of orientalism but also in light of current debates over ecocriticism, translation studies, tourism, and cultural geography. He offers brilliant readings of postcolonial poets like Agha Shahid Ali, Lorna Goodison, and Daljit Nagra, as well as canonical modernists such as W. B. Yeats, Wallace Stevens, T. S. Eliot, and Marianne Moore. Ramazani shows that even when poetry seems locally rooted, its long memory of forms and words, its connections across centuries, continents, and languages, make it a powerful imaginative resource for a global age. This book makes a strong case for poetry in the future development of world literature and global studies.

304 pages | 1 figure, 1 table | 6 x 9 | © 2020

Literature and Literary Criticism: General Criticism and Critical Theory


"Ramazani’s insight in Poetry in a Global Age is especially astute and timely: poetry is important and flourishing precisely because of its global perspective. . . . Among the book’s many merits are the close readings which, teeming from its dense pages, are uniformly insightful. Ramazani is either introducing us to poets who deserve a wider audience and showing us why. . . or reconceiving some aspect of long-studied figures with a fresh angle or a new context."

Time Present: The Newsletter of the International T. S. Eliot Society

"Over the past two decades [Ramazani] has shown how we might think transnationally and translocally about poetry. Much literature in the area concentrates on the novel, as critics assume that poetry is more integrally tied to particular traditions. If the real world is globalised, then, so the logic goes, since the novel incorporates larger tranches of that world, it must deal more immediately with globalism. This perhaps demonstrates the shortcomings of such critics than any shortcoming in the genre of poetry. . . Ramazani leaves no doubt that the genre can easily keep pace with the novel. . . Ramazani exemplifies what is best in transnational literary criticism."

Justin Quinn | Dublin Review of Books

“In this generous and engaging book, the capstone of an informal trilogy, Ramazani further widens our gaze and clears up our confusion about poetry’s part in an interconnected world. Each chapter takes up one of the current topics within our broad discussion of globalism, summarizing critical debates with a clear-eyed and nuanced argument of its own that pushes beyond dichotomies. As always, Ramazani develops his claims through targeted close readings that return us to the joy and utility of reading poetry.”

Bonnie Costello, Boston University

“In Poetry in a Global Age, Ramazani demonstrates just how much scholars of world literature have missed by taking their bearings primarily from narrative. The book draws on an almost unbelievably wide swath of reading in scholarly fields, including world history, ecological theory, linguistics, the social science literature on globalization, studies of tourism and war, and debates over form and translation. Poetry in a Global Age will be necessary reading for virtually everyone thinking and writing about English-language poetry and comparative poetics.”

Nathan Suhr-Sytsma, Emory University

Table of Contents


Chapter 1. “Cosmopolitan Sympathies”: Poetry of the First Global War

Chapter 2. The Local Poem in a Global Age

Chapter 3. Poetry and Tourism in a Global Age

Chapter 4. Modernist Inflections, Postcolonial Directions

Chapter 5. Poetry and the Transnational Migration of Form

Chapter 6. Yeats’s Asias: Modernism, Orientalism, Anti-orientalism

Chapter 7. Poetry, the Planet, and the Ecological Thought: Wallace Stevens and Beyond

Chapter 8. Seamus Heaney’s Globe

Chapter 9. Code-Switching, Code-Stitching: A Macaronic Poetics?

Chapter 10. Poetry, (Un)Translatability, and World Literature

Epilogue. Lyric Poetry: Intergeneric, Transnational, Translingual?


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