Innovations in Poetry
Department of American Literature, University of Łódź September 29-30, 2016Welcome
Beginning with the modernist aesthetic revolution, poetry has continuously shown a stubborn resolve to respond to social, political and cultural shifts and crises with technical innovation. Such innovativeness speaks of the resilience of poetry, as genre, as it refuses to succumb to various announcements of its death or cultural irrelevance. The historical lineage of these responses is an impressive inventory of technical innovation in itself. While the New York School poets reacted to the monumental edifices of their modernist predecessors, their own performative-surrealist modes or varieties of “personism” were later replaced by the Language poets’ insistence on the dissolution of personal expressivity, while both the Language and New York School poets have been seen as responding to the technically moderate “scenic mode” of the 1970’s.
But these innovations have already had their continuations and further reverberations. As various prominent commentators suggest, poetry written in English, now also resounding beyond the Anglophone scope, has continued to respond to social and cultural crises and turmoils with technical innovation. Michael Davidson has argued that the “negative capability” of the contemporary poet, now resolving more around social crises than “personal uncertainty,” has given us poems of increased “interruption” and deliberate “illegibility,” as poets seek to make the genre responsive to the crises of global migrations, economic meltdown, ecological degradation, and fluctuations in our understanding of gender and labor. From a slightly different viewpoint, reinforcing Charles Bernstein’s advocacy of poetic artifice as resistance to dominant poetic “verse cultures,” Marjorie Perloff has defended the cause of technical poetic innovation and practicing poetry “by other means,” proposing an aesthetic platform which, while it calls for a rethinking of the notion of individual originality, also delivers a staunch defense of the capacity of poets and their practice to keep the genre afresh by technical and formal innovation.
These critics’ favoring of the poetry of citationality and cultural material appropriation has found support through various archival projects. One of them is the recently published 2014 Poetics Journal Digital Archive, preceded by a 2013 co-publication, A Guide to Poetics Journal: Writing in the Expanded Field, 1982-1998. Edited by Lyn Hejinian and Barrett Watten, both volumes document critical developments, taking into account an impressively broad range of aesthetic perspectives. Meant as a resource for research, collaborations, and interventions, rather than a definitive collection of criticism, the archive offers an encouragement to view poetry and poetics as “an expanded field” of both theory and poetic practice. Poetic tradition does not take center stage in this project; instead, it privileges the realm of the avant-garde with its many theoretical and aesthetic debates. For the editors,
[p]oetics is a site for reflection on the making of the work that extends its construction into the fields of meaning in which it has its effects. Such fields of meaning are manifold, from the readers’ responses to historical contexts, social motivations, relations to other arts, and philosophical concerns, finally entailing something like a cunning of poetics: the manner in which the work of art extends its principle of construction, the way it makes meaning, through the contexts it draws from, finally, to transform them.
The challenge posed by this archival initiative may serve to sum up the thrust of what we are proposing to explore in this thematically focused conference. We invite scholars to present their views and stance on the technical innovation in the poetry written in English, as it continues to respond to crises of various kinds – social, economic, cultural, globalized – remaining a vitally flexible genre, able to shape insightful perspectives on the human situation.
The “new poetries” that we invite you to consider are the poetries of technical and aesthetic innovation. The conference presentations that we welcome and invite may include, but are in no way limited to, the following tendencies, contexts, and issues as well as the ways in which they have been intertwined:
The conference fee is 350 PLN.
The 1st conference circular, contacting the authors of accepted proposals and containing further payment, venue, and accommodation information, will be sent by June 5.
University of Maine
Carla Billitteri teaches poetics and critical theory at the University of Maine at Orono, where she is also a member of the editorial collective of the National Poetry Foundation. She is the author of Language and the Renewal of Society in Walt Whitman, Laura (Riding) Jackson and Charles Olson (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009). Her essays on English- and Italian-language poetry have appeared in Arizona Quarterly, Gravesiana, How2, The Journal of Modern Literature, Paideuma, Textual Practice, Entropy, The Worcester Review, and Aerial 10. She is also active as a translator of contemporary Italian poetry, with work in The FSG Book of Twentieth-Century Italian Poetry, Aufgabe, Boundary2, and The Atlanta Review. She translated Alda Merini’s aphorisms I Am a Furious Little bee (Hooke Press, 2008) and Maria Attanasio’s poetry Amnesia of the Movement of Clouds & Of Red and Black Verse (Litmus Press, 2014).
University of Kent
David Herd is Professor of Modern Literature at the University of Kent. His collections of poetry include All Just (Carcanet, 2012), Outwith (Bookthug, 2012) and Through (Carcanet 2016). He is the author of John Ashbery and American Poetry and Enthusiast! Essays on Modern American Literature, and the editor of Contemporary Olson. His recent writings on the politics of movement have appeared in the Los Angeles Review of Books, PN Review, Parallax and Almost Island and he is a co-organiser of the project Refugee Tales.
University of Lodz
Associate professor of American Literature at the University of Łódź. Author of a monograph study of John Ashbery (Peter Lang 2006) and a collection of essays on pragmatist poetics (Biuro Literackie, 2009). He has been a Fulbright Fellow at Stanford University (supervised by Richard Rorty) and at Princeton (supervised by Alexander Nehamas). He has also been a Kosciuszko Foundation Fellow (research with Richard Shusterman). He is an active literary critic in English and Polish. He is also a poet in Polish, with five poetry collections. His latest poetic collection has been shortlisted to two major Polish poetry prizes: the Silesius and Gdynia Literary Awards (both in 2016). As a translator, he brought the poems of John Ashbery, Rae Armantrout, Peter Gizzi, and John Yau into Polish. A collection of Peter Gizzi’s poems in his translation was published in Poland in 2013.
University of Lodz
Assistant Professor at the Department of American Literature, Lodz University. She studied American literature and gender studies at the Department of English, University of Orono, Maine (M.A. degree in literature). She also worked for the National Poetry Foundation (University of Orono, Maine) as an Editorial Assistant of the journal Paideuma: Studies in American and British Modernism. She defended her Ph.D. dissertation at Lodz University. She published in Poland and in the U.S. on the work of such authors as Bret Easton Ellis, Louise Erdrich, Virginia Woolf, Italo Calvino, Nicole Brossard, Joanna Russ, Thalia Field, as well as writers associated with Language poetries (Lyn Hejinian, Carla Harryman, and Leslie Scalapino). In 2013 she co-edited (with dr Kacper Bartczak) a book Theory That Matters: What Practice After Theory. She is a member of International American Studies Association (IASA), Contemporary Women's Writing Association (CWWA) and Society for the Study of American Women Writers (SSAWW).