By Michelle Clayton
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Extra info for Poetry in pieces : César Vallejo and lyric modernity
Meanwhile, a new anthology of critical and theoretical writings, Poetry and Cultural Studies (2009), which foregrounds the sidelining of poetry in studies of national literatures, further aims to undo any notion that poetry is necessarily trapped in the domain of high culture. Approaching poetry from diverse angles—ethnicity, mass culture, Frankfurt school critical theory—it attempts to recover the historical role of the lyric in processing various forms of culture: national, regional, popular, socioeconomic, ethnic.
This chapter charts the ways in which Vallejo shifts from speaking as a Peruvian and/or Latin American viewing Paris and broader international culture and politics from the outside, to a series of temporary affiliations with oppositional models of culture: black theater in Paris, Soviet experiments, and the common passerby or transeúnte. I trace his zigzagging commentary on the semiotics of modernity and its structuring discourses, a commentary that provides a crucial counterpart to writings by the Frankfurt school and by the surrealists; Vallejo’s reflections on fashion, sport, science, theater, and film cut their way through international modern culture from outside and from below.
This dilemma comes into sharper relief when his sporadic theoretical writings are compared with those of his contemporary José Carlos Mariátegui, who in those same years was producing provocative readings of the international and local avant-gardes but also problematically restrictive readings of Vallejo’s poetry. This chapter therefore reads these two writers contrapuntally, comparing their responses to one another, to the unfolding panorama of interwar aesthetic politics, and to the increasingly attractive medium of film, whose redemptive promise was epitomized for both in the figure of Charlie Chaplin.
Poetry in pieces : César Vallejo and lyric modernity by Michelle Clayton