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Special Collection

Between borders: French-language poetry and the poetics of statelessness

Collection launched: 31 Oct 2019
This special collection offers an exploration of poetic engagements with statelessness in a selection of poetry in the French language in the period since 1900. Evoking a position abstracted from established categories of being, place and political selfhood, ‘statelessness’ speaks to the dramas of exile and migration as well as to the anxious positioning of poetry itself on the margins of prevailing discursive systems. A number of the poets who are the focus of discussion in this collection (Guillaume Apollinaire, Chahan Chahnour/Armen Lubin, and Ghérasim Luca) were themselves stateless, and as some articles go to show, this suggests an underexploited frame of reference for understanding the evolution of avant-gardist poetry of the early twentieth-century. While some of the contributions contained here draw on this context, others are marked by more contemporary configurations of questions of belonging, migration and translinguality. The featured articles range widely across national boundaries, notably moving between Armenian, French, German and Romanian literary traditions. Throughout the collection, the contributions explore the ways in which poetry evades instrumentalisation by dominant linguistic ideologies and discourses of nationality. Together they offer a compelling picture of the development of poetic practice in the modern and contemporary period.