Archaeopoetics explores poetry as historical investigation, examining works by five contemporary poets whose creations represent new, materially emphatic methods of engaging with the past and producing new kinds of historical knowledge.
Critic Mandy Bloomfield traces the emergence of a significant historicist orientation in recent poetry, exemplified by the work of five writers: American poet Susan Howe, Korean-American artist Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, British poet Maggie O’Sullivan, and diasporic African Caribbean writers Kamau Brathwaite and M. NourbeSe Philip. Bloomfield sets the work of these five authors within a vigorous tradition, including earlier work by Ezra Pound and Walter Benjamin, and then shows how these five poets create poems that engender new encounters with pivotal episodes in history, such as the English regicide or Korea’s traumatized twentieth century.
Exploring our shared but imperfectly understood history as well as omissions and blind spots in historiography, Bloomfield outlines the tension between the irretrievability of effaced historical evidence and the hope that poetry may reconstitute such unrecoverable histories. She posits that this tension is fertile, engendering a form of aesthetically enacted epistemological enquiry.
Fascinating and seminal, Archaeopoetics pays special attention to the sensuous materiality of texts and most especially to the visual manifestations of poetry. The poems in Archaeopoetics employ the visual imagery of the word itself or incorporate imagery into the poetry to propose persuasive alternatives to narrative or discursive frameworks of historical knowledge.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mandy Bloomfield is a lecturer in English at the University of Plymouth in the United Kingdom, where she teaches both critical theory and modern and contemporary literature.
PRAISE FOR ARCHAEOPOETICS
“In Archaeopoetics, Mandy Bloomfield outlines a long-overlooked aspect of modern and contemporary poetry: its historicism. Her approach to visuality, especially in texts where it is more muted, has the potential to significantly influence future scholars.”
—Sarah Dowling, author of DOWN and Security Posture
“Archaeopoetics digs down into postwar poets’ use of archaeology as a poetic model and method. Mandy Bloomfield’s brilliant readings of Susan Howe, Teresa Hak Kyung Cha, Maggie Sullivan, M. NourbeSe Philip, and Kamau Brathwaite brush history the wrong way by exposing, through their poetry, the materiality of documents, runes on stones, legal cases, and chronicles through which lost voices may speak again. In addition to being a major contribution to historical poetics, Archaeopoetics also rubs the aesthetic the wrong way by returning to a discourse forged in disinterested appreciation of the phenomenological and ‘lived’ experience of historical actors. If the modernist mantra was ‘make it new,’ perhaps in the light of Bloomfield’s important scholarship, poets have revised it to read, ‘make the old new.'”
—Michael Davidson, author of Bleed Through: New and Selected Poems, Concerto for the Left Hand: Disability and the Defamiliar Body, and Guys Like Us: Citing Masculinity in Cold War Poetics
Modern and Contemporary Poetics
Charles Bernstein and Hank Lazer, series editors
256 pp / 26 B&W illustrations
ISBN: 978-0-8173-5853-2 Paper
ISBN: 978-0-8173-8965-9 Ebook