In leading off the section “Aftershock: Poetry and Cultural Politics since 1989,” this essay takes as its point of departure the pivotal historical, cultural, and political questions posed by the fall of the Berlin Wall. It explores, in particular, the concomitant collapse of the oppositional discursive economy that shaped and informed discussions of innovative or new avant-garde poetries (Language Poetry in particular) as these poetries gradually gained currency in the academy during the late Cold War period. Tracing a necessary reconfiguration of practices in light of the increasing prominence of multicultural poetries in the 1990s, it analyzes the implications of the shift that has occurred in the decade since 1989: from a poetry, poetics, and cultural politics invested in oppositional cultural economies to one that might more accurately be described as appositional. Recognizing diversity as the “unsurpassable horizon” of the post-1989 period, the article sees in the alliance between new avant-garde and multicultural poetries the promise of a liberatory poetry and poetics that would contribute to the development of multiple cultural literacies.

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