Our world is full of copies. This proliferation includes not just the copying that occurs online and the cultural copying of globalization but the works of avant-garde writers challenging cultural and political authority. In Make It the Same, Jacob Edmond examines the turn toward repetition in poetry, using the explosion of copying to offer a deeply inventive account of modern and contemporary literature.
Make It the Same explores how poetry—an art form associated with the singular, inimitable utterance—is increasingly made from other texts through sampling, appropriation, translation, remediation, performance, and other forms of repetition, as opposed to privileging “innovative” or “original” works. Edmond tracks the rise of copy poetry across media from the tape recorder to the computer and through various cultures, languages, and places, reading across aesthetic, linguistic, geopolitical, and media divides. He illuminates the common form that unites a diverse range of writers from dub poets to conceptualists, samizdat wordsmiths to Twitter-trolling provocateurs, analyzing the works of such writers as Kamau Brathwaite, Dmitri Prigov, Lev Rubinstein, Caroline Bergvall, NourbeSe Philip, Yang Lian 楊煉, John Cayley, the Mongrel Coalition Against Gringpo, Vanessa Place, Kenneth Goldsmith, Christian Bök, Brandon Som, Yi Sha 伊沙, Hsia Yü 夏宇, and Tan Lin. Edmond develops an alternative account of modernist and contemporary literature as defined not by innovation—as in Ezra Pound’s slogan “make it new”—but by a system of continuous copying. Make It the Same transforms global literary history, showing how the old hierarchies of original and derivative, center and periphery are overturned when we recognize copying as the engine of literary change.