Fady Joudah

Poetry is not cinema, not an emblem of modernity, but a reaction to it. Poetry, ancient as the human mind, has always been specific to place, locale, and time, without being necessarily defined by or confined to them. If modernity is the monopoly of one, then, yes, there is American poetry. If modernity is an oligarchy, then how can we discern what's American from what is French or Russian? If modernity is a democracy, a plethora of voices and styles, then is there such a thing as Global poetry? Poetry has always been universal, with the provincial as its springboard. Was Romanticism possible without Arabic? Was Arabic possible without Persian? Was language possible without echo? If anything is American about poetry today, it is the question. There is poetry in American, in Americana, and one must define what is American, first, in order to reach "American poetry." Such a search would hopefully send us into a whirling spell that blurs the self into others and others into self. What will remain of this unheralded democratic age of poetry? Perhaps what has always remained of poetry, any poetry, or perhaps we will just have to wait and see.

If I ask myself the same question about Arabic poetry, what is "Arabic" about it, other than what is inherently private to it, I would come up with the same response: reflect the narcissus of decadence, power dialectics, their mirror-images, what lies in their wake.




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