Thinking Its Presence: Form, Race, and Subjectivity in Contemporary Asian American Poetry

Thinking Its Presence: Form, Race, and Subjectivity in Contemporary Asian American Poetry

Thinking Its Presence: Form, Race, and Subjectivity in Contemporary Asian American Poetry

Thinking Its Presence: Form, Race, and Subjectivity in Contemporary Asian American Poetry

Excerpt

This book is as much a rethinking of how poetry is critically discussed today by critics—in the academy mainly but also, to a lesser extent, in the wider poetry-reading public—as it is a focused study of five contemporary Asian American poets. Thinking Its Presence: Form, Race, and Subjectivity in Contemporary Asian American Poetry adds a voice to the long and ongoing conversation about poetry and poetics, even as it will be read more topically as a study of Asian American literature, minority American poetry, and diasporic literature. I see no contradiction in claiming that a “minor” literature, not only minor but also secondary among American minority literatures, provides a crucial lens through which to view fundamental questions concerning what is, arguably, still the major genre in the English literary tradition, even as critics bemoan the fact that no one reads it: poetry. Indeed, Asian American poetry—which occupies a unique place in both the American national body and the American literary imaginary as the nexus of constitutively and immutably “alien” racialized subjects and the vaunted English-language poetic tradition —puts to the test many of our widest held beliefs, not only about minority literature but also about English literature, poetry and poetics, American literature and society, and the value of the literary.

This claim that minority poetry can contribute importantly to American (and English-language) poetry and poetics flies in the face of the reception of ethnic poetry in English literary and poetry stud-

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