Poetry in the Age of Global English

Poetry in the Age of Global English

Project description:

Poetry has experienced a remarkable resurgence in mass media and culture. From the Indian-Canadian poet whose Instagram following turned her books into global bestsellers; to the Irish poet’s lines featured in a U.S. presidential campaign ad; to the recitation of Imagist verse in a South Korean Netflix series, poetry’s new relevance evidently draws from its capacity to traverse linguistic, cultural, and medium-specific borders.

However, as these examples also illustrate, what appears as a wider circulation of international poetry could be regarded as the global circulation of one kind of poetry: Anglophone, Anglo-American. English is the most used language in the world (approx. 1.35 billion speakers), and through its omnipresence on screens, billboards, and t-shirts, it is unquestionably the first language of mass media and culture. Poetry’s popularity seems inevitably entangled with Empire’s linguistic campaign.

But this entanglement might now be wielded to extricate English-language use from complicity in a hegemonic worldview. After all, “Anglophone” no longer means “Anglo-American;” linguists have noted that non-native speakers of English now far outnumber native speakers, such that “Global English” is in fact a widening variety of “New Englishes.”

This project highlights how contemporary Anglophone poets, particularly those in non-Anglophone contexts, contribute to the formation of these Englishes, as well as produce strategies for more creative and critical general engagements with the language. In particular, it identifies and proposes translingual poetic practices that 1) work across languages and media to disrupt the illusion of English’s universal communicativeness; 2) reshape English from agent of extinction to vehicle for preservation; and 3) account for the theoretical and personal rationale for language choice within creative practice.

Poetry both exemplifies how language has been used as well as pushes open possibilities for how language can be used. The latter is what gives poetry urgency in the age of Global English.