‘The community of any English poem today is larger than any nation-state.’

‘English poetry extends back around 500 years, and its scope is the scope of the English language. That is to say, when a North American, an Australian, an Indian or a Jamaican writes a poem in English, that poem enters the corpus of English poetry. Of course it may be that the poet in question was intending to contribute to a national school of poetry, was intending to add his or her brick to the edifice of a national effort. But the community of any English poem today is larger than any nation-state. And besides, the geography of poetry is not the same as the geography of nation-states. Welsh poetry is written for Welsh-speakers wherever they may be. It is not written for all citizens of the United Kingdom. A Spanish poetry, written for Spanish-speakers in the United States, would enjoy a community, through language, with Hispanics everywhere. An Amharic poet, writing in Toronto about life on the streets of Toronto, would be writing for Ethiopians – or at least Amharic-speakers – everywhere. And a poet writing in Chinese has the notable advantage of being able to communicate with anyone who understands written Chinese: the community is in the script.’

– James Fenton, An Introduction to English Poetry

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