To Be (or Not to Be) the Poet: The Cultural Politics of Verse in Asian American Literature
The introduction first offers a general periodization for Chinese/American verse into three distinct but overlapping modes: “racial protest,” “lyric testimony,” and “ethnic abstraction.” Each of these modes, in its turn, roughly correlates with a particular ideological moment in the larger political and social history of Asian “difference” in the United States. Next, the introduction sets forth new theoretical terms that move beyond the limits of “hybridity” as an analytical category by delineating a taxonomy of various “hybridization strategies” exhibited in verse by writers of specifically Chinese descent in the United States. These categories include “transplantation,” “cross-fertilization,” “mimicry,” “grafting,” and “mutation.” This detailed conceptual scheme offers a means for distinguishing between the aesthetic, literary historical, and even broader political significance of the styles and strategies of ethnic cultural representation employed among the variety of Asian American literary production. In doing so, it offers a way to chart the dimensions of Asian American verse as an uneven and evolving counterpoetics of minority “difference” given in response to dominant constructions of Asian (American) identity and culture.
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