Before the fifth century, the imperial identity of a ruler seems to have disabled him as a writer rather than encouraged him to be more prolific. Literary production gradually became centered in the court by the mid-fifth century, and a distinct feature of Southern Dynasties literature is the phenomenon that emperors and princes joined with their courtiers in the act of writing poetry on social occasions. This paper focuses on a number of poems by Emperor Wen of the Song (r. 424-453), Yan Yanzhi (384-456), Xie Tiao (464-499), Shen Yue (441-513), and Liu Xiaochuo (481-539) that represent kingship and empire and thereby become a means of disseminating and implementing imperial power. In particular, it examines the physical and discursive construction of the capital Jiankang. We see thereby that Southern Dynasties court poetry was instrumental in the performance of sovereignty and the envisioning of the new, southern empire.