24 February 2010

Adrienne Rich

Jane Hedley writes in "Nepantalist Poetics: Narrative and Cultural Identity in the Mixed-Language Writings of Irena Klepfisz and Gloria AnzaldĂșa" (1996):

"In What Is Found There, her recently published meditation on poetry and politics, Adrienne Rich suggests that in the late twentieth century North American poetry is beginning to be ‘a multicultural literature of discontinuity, migration, and difference.’ Often, she explains, it is a bilingual poetry, ‘incorporating patois and languages other than English’: bilingualism is a fact of life for many of these writers, and it is ‘expressive,’ Rich points out, ‘of the divisions as well as the resources of difference.’”

We are not the first to notice the emergence of multilingual literature (older than macaronic verse) nor the first to take it seriously (because macaronic verse was not quite taken seriously during its time), but we are the first to propose that multilingual literature is the general case and what is apparently monolingual writing is the special case, or to push our physics analogy more accurately, that apparently monolingual writing exhibits all the characteristics of multilingual writing, but since the effects of these on the writing seem negligible, critics do not realize that they are really multilingual.

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