4. The poetics of poetry itself shares many of the romantics suppositions of the poetics of cultural exceptionalism.
The cluster of concerns that to which we give the label poetics, as exemplified by collections of short essays written by poets like The Poetics of the New American Poetry, is fundamentally romantic in its ideology. The assumption that every poet should have his or her own individual poetics, distinct from that of any other creator, is quite foreign to the neo-classical understanding of “poetics” as a set of rules, recommendations, or general principles guiding all imaginative literature. Several poets might, in fact, share comparable versions of romantic poetics, but these will acquire an idiosyncratic shape and linguistic expression in each individual case, or be expressed in a unique set of terms, seemingly sui generis and locked into its particular vocabulary.
As a consequence, the poetics of an individual poet might also take the form of a theory of cultural identity applicable, in theory, to an entire people, nation, or region of the world. Lezama Lima’s sistema poético del mudno, for example, is undoubtedly his own personal “Lezamian” poetics, but also as a theory of cubanidad (Cubanness), of the Carribean region, or of Latin American identity. Insofar as it situates Cuba (and Latin America) in relation to other world cultures (European, Egyptian, etc...) it is also potentially universalist in scope. A similar set of concentric circles are also evident in Lorca’s theory of the duende.