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Archaeopoetics explores “archaeological poetry,” ground-breaking and experimental writing by innovative poets whose work opens up broad new avenues by which contemporary readers may approach the past, illuminating the dense web of interconnections often lost in traditional historiography.
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.

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