From Samizdat to Instagram

Poetry Unbound

I’m delighted to see Bartholomew Brinkman has reviewed Make It the Same alongside Mike Chasar’s excellent Poetry Unbound. I first came across Poetry Unbound earlier this year, when I started writing about Instapoetry and its evocation of earlier modes of informal publishing such as mimeographed or photocopied zines and samizdat. As Brinkman rightly notes, both Chasar and I are interested in stretching the limits of poetry:

Together, Poetry Unbound and Make It the Same stage key interventions in studies of modern and contemporary poetry, media studies, global literature, and modernism. First, they expand the field of modern and contemporary poetry studies both through the kinds of poetry they choose to study and through their methods of study. With his attention to conceptual and performative poetics, and the ways in which poems are created outside the traditional codex book and publication structures in both digital and predigital forms, Edmond makes a compelling case for the contemporary avant-garde as a counterweight to more mainstream codex-based poetics that often privilege notions of original authorship. While Chasar draws many of his examples from highly canonical poets—such as Tennyson, Dickinson, and Yeats—the two poets he most closely examines, Millay and Kaur, are held up as popular poets that have been critically understudied and stand as examples of other popular poets who might gain greater critical attention. Poetry Unbound is as much about reception as it is production, however. As such, Chasar both augments and complicates author-based poetic approaches that continue to dominate poetry studies as he invites readers to look for poems in places they aren’t used to looking. Indeed, Edmond and Chasar stretch the limits of what might count as poetry—or poetry worth studying—even as they uncover the myriad ways such poetry has engaged with its historical moments to foreground gender, racial, sexual, and postcolonial identities.

You can read the full review here.

Published by Jacob Edmond

Jacob Edmond is associate professor in English at the University of Otago, New Zealand. He is the author of Make It the Same: Poetry in the Age of Global Media (Columbia University Press, 2019), A Common Strangeness: Contemporary Poetry, Cross-Cultural Encounter, Comparative Literature (Fordham University Press, 2012), and of numerous essays, which have appeared in journals such as Comparative Literature, Contemporary Literature, Poetics Today, Slavic Review, and The China Quarterly.

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