This essay demonstrates how ‘current events senryū’ has grafted onto the intertextual structuration of traditional Japanese poetics a foregrounding of contemporary events. As premodern Japanese poetic forms (such as haiku) depend upon working in tandem with matrices of conventional uses and associations, their intertextual deference is extreme. In modern writing, this extreme intertextuality allows foregrounding of multiple intertexts from various discourses, so as to bring to bear a density of reference in the poetry. In articulating satirical observations of current events, senryū borrows only this conventional form of extreme intertextuality while largely abandoning (or at best parodying) conventional associations of such poetic matrices of conventional phrasings and association (common to literary senryū and haiku). Thus contemporary discourses fulfil the formal function of the poetic matrices, obviating conventional coordinates of linear expressivity in prose or free verse. This satirical poetry's radically intertextual articulations necessarily assert choices of attention as constitutive originary discourses or proto-discursive utterances capable of defying the status quo postmodern deferral of meaning and concomitant reproduction of a static ‘social’ that Baudrillard describes, and sustain what Jacques Rancière calls dissensus in the redefining of what is visible in the ‘distribution of the sensible’.
Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies 2012, pp.1–15