Poetics and Justice in America, Japan, and Taiwan shows how entitlements are implicated in all areas of life—human and nonhuman—that poetry reaches. Through a creative adaptation of Badiou’s philosophical framing, this book argues that poetry matters as a form of media particularly suited to integrating diverse fields of knowledge and attention in newspapers, Tweets, and performance as well as volumes of poetry. Recasting intertextuality as more relational than referential, the author argues for the importance of poetry in realizing how social change and ecological justice are bound up in our orientations of affiliation. Each chapter focuses on particular sets of problems engaged by poets in different contexts to various ends in Japan, the US, and Taiwan. Some chapters explore the subtle implications of openly provocative styles, while others question the muted poetic intimations of injustices that are left standing unchanged in the name of aesthetics. Poets and performance artists featured include Amiri Baraka, John Ashbery, Tawara Machi, Rodrigo Toscano, Hung Hung, and John Cage. The author argues for examining poetic expressions in terms of what discursive fusions and affiliations they embody beyond the intimation of good intentions or ironic passing over.
Dean Anthony Brink is professor in the department of foreign languages and literatures at National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University.
Introduction: Poetic Configurations and Intertextuality after Badiou and Angenot
Part I: On Ecological Engagement in American Poetry
Chapter 1: Romantic and Anthropocentric Agency in Contemporary American Ecopoetry
Part II: Social and Ecological Criticism in Contemporary Japanese Poetry
Chapter 2: Post-Bubble Satirical Verse in Neoliberal Japan
Chapter 3: Nuclear Hegemony and Material Indices: The Verse Boom after Fukushima
Chapter 4: Tawara Machi’s Classical Pop Poetics of Consumerism and Travel
Part III: Settling Scores: Poetry Out of the New York School and Beyond
Chapter 5: Racialization, Sound, and Affiliations of Change in Amiri Baraka’s Performance Poetry
Chapter 6: Sun Ra’s Chromatic Affirmations: Subtractive Collaboration and Afrofuturism
Chapter 7: Situating Intentionality and Social Critique in the Poetry and Performance of John Cage and Rodrigo Toscano
Chapter 8: The Double Edge of Indifference in John Ashbery’s Late Work
Part IV: Poetry of Emergent Communities
Chapter 9: Human Rights and the Arts in Contemporary Taiwan: Hung Hung’s Literary and Dramatic Productions
Chapter 10: Precarious Spaces and Intertextual Jouissance in Queer Communities in San Francisco and Tokyo: The Poetry of Justin Chin and Ishii Tatsuhiko
If this book were half as amazing it would still be remarkable. the theorizing offers an original and important take on Badiou; the readings of poems are precise and the scope of reference gorgeously transcultural, with the focus on the U.S., Japan, and Taiwan; and the treatment of politics plausible and often compelling, How can one go wrong with a book that announces early on that the author learned to read the New York poets through the intertextual strategies of classical Japanese work?
Poetics and Justice is a fascinating study of the political importance of contemporary American, Japanese, and Taiwanese poetry that is not openly political. Its focus on intertextuality as a function of political affiliation instead of poststructuralist or postmodern diffusion of signification leads to a diverse range of insights and new understandings of engaged poetry. Adapting French philosopher Alain Badiou's evental theory to literary and cultural studies, and engaging critical materialist and ecological issues of human-nonhuman relations and ontologies, Poetics and Justice skillfully situates poetry as challenging government and media obfuscation of scientific findings. This book will appeal to scholars of American, Japanese, and Taiwanese literature, as well as ecocriticism, comparative literature, and related fields.