In December of 1921, a 22-year-old Jorge Luis Borges published “Ultraísmo” in the Argentine journal Nosotros. The editors wrote that his short article was the initial entry in a series of studies about the avant-gardes, recognizing perhaps that the moment of the ultraísta movement had already passed (a few months later, the key journal Ultra ceased publication). While the avant-garde principles of ultraísmo would continue to inform the work of many poets both Spanish and Latin American, by 1921 the movement qua movement was drawing still. But for the literary establishment, understanding ultraísmo was just beginning, and thus Borges’s essay was an attempt to assert the new literary ethic through accounting, a manifesto in reverse.
On the evening of October 28th, 2015, Rosa Alcalá, Carmen Giménez Smith, Roberto Tejada, and Rodrigo Toscano gave a collaborative performance of their work in the Eck Visitors Center at the University of Notre Dame. The reading was part of a two-day program, “Angels of the Americlypse: readings and colloquia — new Latin@ poetries and literary translation” organized by Letras Latinas, the literary initiative (directed by Francisco Aragón) of Notre Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies, in collaboration with Notre Dame’s Creative Writing Program.
At the 2015 annual meeting of the American Comparative Literature Association, Lucy Alford and Bronwen Tate organized a seminar called “Minimalisms, Maximalisms, Modes: Formal Scale and Poetic Attention.” Two questions asked by the call for papers for this stream — “How do changes in formal scale shape the reading experience across cultures and linguistic traditions?”; and “How are ambition, expansion, contraction, reticence, or garrulity in poetry read in terms of gender, race, class, and other social identities?” — I take as especially germane to considering Elena Minor’s collection Titulada (2014), published in the Akrilika Series by Noemi Press.
In his entry for The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics (2012) on the “objective correlative,” Louis Menand notes that since 1980, the term has appeared in several hundred scholarly articles. There’s also no shortage of forebears of Eliot’s concept, including Washington Allston, Arthur Fairchild, Pater, Coleridge, and Schiller. Robert Stallman’s The Critic’s Notebook (1950) is efficient in staging that conversation; in fact, The Critic’s Notebook in many respects is a textual performance that parallels the objective correlative.
It has been 100 years since Ezra Pound published Cathay. And of all the things that Cathay brings to mind as a convergence of cultures, it's never regarded as a Hispanic text. I'm being provocative here, but not without reason; I want to comment upon certain aspects of the provenance of modern(ist) poetics as a specie of cultural syncretism. By provenance, of course, I mean the history of ownership or residence of ideas and their migrations, and the provenance of modern(ist) poetics has a longstanding dialog between Anglo America and Spanish America.