The association of poetry with nationalism is ancient and, in the literary establishment, effectively universal. Poets in the distant past sang of their peoples, and poetry has traditionally taken the highest role in national self-expression: there’s a reason most peoples sing verse anthems instead of reading prose paragraphs when they’re celebrating national identity.
But however natural it may seem to categorize poems according to countries, the practice is deeply problematic.
In part, that is because this very universality has assumed a position of exclusivity—so much so that most people wouldn’t think to question the categorization of a poem according to its national origin, whether in ‘English’ or ‘Irish’ or ‘American’ literature courses, let alone in poetry anthologies….
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