‘Cosmopolibackofbeyondism’ – Robert Crawford

‘Cosmopolibackofbeyondism is a creed with a wink in it. Poetry’s obsessions – love, death, God, sound, silence – travel across times and cultures; nothing could be more cosmopolitan. At the same time, verse is a marginal act, operating way out at the back of beyond, at the limits of what can be said. Its centrality and marginality are bonded.

Every poem is an island. To get to a poem requires sailing out from the mainland of routine language. Some poems are close to shore, others much further away; on every island it is possible to feel remote and at home. A poem is defined by the rugged shore of its right-hand margin, cutting it off from prose. Yet just as any poem-island has the tang of the back of beyond, it has, too, aspects, shared speech-forms, political shapes, faiths, which link it to other places. All poems are connected, most simply through the shared cosmopolis of verse.’

– Robert Crawford, Cosmopolibackofbeyondism (2000)

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