panels

this is just a partial list of panels…check back (frequently) for updates.

The End of Authentic Time

Panelists: Lytle Shaw, Rob Fitterman, Paul Stephens, John Melillo

For the New American poets and their successors, the lure of the quotidian involved not just the concrete immediacy of “daily life” but also a promise somehow latent in the minute passage of time—an authentic micro temporality positioned against forms of symptomatic and monumental history.  We might say in retrospect that, despite their other differences, the Language poets actually continued this temporal project, gradually shifting the focus from experience “itself” to its necessary mediation in language—slowing down syntax and idiom as they buckled under analytical pressure.

As powerful, then, as the quotidian and the disjunctive impulses of poetry have been over the last 60 years, they do not operate in anything like the same way in the present: the very attempt to register micro temporalities now reads like a period piece, as, increasingly, does “radical” disjunction. Is this the outcome, merely, of the familiar exhaustion of formal devices? Or is it the result of new socially and technologically produced temporalities impinging on poetic practice? What now occupies the “place” of micro temporality and disjunction in contemporary poetry? And, more generally, what kinds of new philosophies of time are at work in this recent writing.

Reading Radicalism: a conversation across disciplines

Panelists: Bruce Andrews, Mick Taussig, Jim Livingston, Jeff Nealon, Richard Doyle

What if we shift our focus away from ‘production’ & toward the experience of a reader coming to grips with drastically experimental literature (for example, so-called Language Poetry)? For aesthetic theorizing about this poetry’s distinctive features — as they affect or ‘capacitate’ a reader — it’s easy to get impatient with what the discipline of Literature has to offer as methodology. Instead, what implications could we tease out of cutting-edge theorizing in other fields to rethink these reader experiences? For this first conversation, Anthropology, Social History, Postmodern Cultural Theory, and the Neuroscience of Psychedelia join the mix with Avant-garde Poetics.

Poetics as a Category

Panelists: Craig Dworkin, Marjorie Perloff, Judith Goldman Alan Golding, Matthew Hofer

The category of Poetry has been enormously generous–taking in works that would otherwise find themselves generically orphaned, accepting experiments that other genres did not want, constantly expanding and adjusting its criteria for centuries. But that capacious kindness has also led to difficulties, and the usefulness of the category is inversely related to its breadth. Why do we still talk about “poetry” at this late stage–after deconstruction and intermedia and hybridity?  What does the genre still do for us?

Ecologies of Poetry

Panelists: Andrew Schelling, Jonathan Skinner, Sherwin Bitsui, Tan Lin, Susan Howe

The turn towards ecology & conservation studies—in both the natural & the cultural realms—provides new ways of considering “open field” poetry. As we come to understand the hidden realms of nature, such as metabolism, food chains, interconnectedness, endangered species, & the role of large predators, the multiple dimensions of the poem look increasingly like a complex ecosystem. Similarly, North American poetry no longer occurs in a single language, but moves within a vast ecosystem of languages, culture traits, myths, & sciences are occurring. Many of these are as endangered as certain species, and it is clear the same forces may be degrading both spheres. Pound once wrote, “it can’t all be done in one language,” and it is beginning to appear that it (the poem) can’t all be done in one culture either.

Affective Economies and Prosodies

Panelists: Rachel Zolf, Lisa Robertson, Chris Nealon, Jeff Derksen

From Spinoza’s ideas about bodies and emotions, to recent work within the Marxian tradition on immaterial labor, the concept of “affect” has become available for use in ways that may be critical for any contemporary poetics committed to new social and political forms. In the turn toward affect as a locus of agency, the common sense idea that emotion finds its coherence in the individual begins to give way to a more fluid and socially volatile notion of affects. From Sianne Ngai’s “negative affects” in the face of capitalism, to Brian Massumi’s assertion of the “affective fact” and Sarah Ahmed’s emphasis on “affective economies”, to Henri Meschonnic’s work on the politics of rhythm, affect is both materialized within and enmeshed into the conventions of collective life – the structure of feelings of our present moment. Accordingly, feelings do not simply reside in subjects or objects but rather are “produced as effects of circulation.” To speak of affective economies as both managed and eruptive, then, is to be attentive to how trans-individual feelings move through the rhythms of everyday life, social spaces, practices, and subjects; and to speak of affective labor is to be attentive to how forms of emotion become productive material, if not the lubricant for a wide range of social apparatuses, from the movement of finance capital to the militarization of everyday life. But while affect often materializes as the social sap for nefarious projects, it can also be the site where vectors of social and linguistic force suddenly shift for transformative and non-instrumental ends or become the stimulus for collective social imaginations and formations. This panel asks how new understandings of affect, the language of affect, and rhythm might inform a prosody and a poetics committed to refusing these economies, activating a linguistic and poetic agency in sometimes lyrical, sometimes sincere, sometimes enraged, or even shamefully productive ways.

Poetics and the Academy

Panelists: Juliana Spahr, Mark Nowak, C. S. Giscombe, Steve Evans, Stephanie Young

Given that higher education in the US is more or less a pay to play system (whether one pays with cash or with labor), one extensively supported by a governmental credit baiting student loan system; given its somewhat feudal hiring and retention practices and the difficulties of getting more than two aligned colleagues in one location; given that the possibility of teaching creative writing is frequently denied or belittled by the very people who are hired to teach it; and yet despite all this, given that the higher education system unfortunately and ironically remains both one of the more progressive and richest institutions in the US, is there anything that we, whatever “we” are, can do with or within this higher education system all together? The larger question might be: should there, could there, be an inter/national Poetics Program? If there were, what would it do? How would it do it? But perhaps the easier way to get at these questions is to rethink the conventions around those ways that poetry and poetics enters the academy: the reading series, the talk series, the conference, the seminar restricted to those who are paying to attend the university, the writers center/house, the summer program, the workshop, etc.

Poetic Composition: Tools and Materials

Panelists: Erica Hunt, Jennifer Scappetone, Brent Edwards, Charles Bernstein

A starting point: assume abundant materials, the everyday, everywhere you look, even when you are not looking but listening, as you sleep, under the bed, every where.  Assume: “mind is shapely,” tool driven mammals, no legs, two legs, three legs and no legs again, the facts of the matter and their spin, inevitable transformation.  What do you begin to make of it, as a poet, a reader and writer?  One approach suggests an “ontological pluralism”, the many worlds that co-exist side by side, in relation to the brutal facts, “the material character of the signifier,” a pluralism that limns the imaginary and the utopian, claimable through artistic diligence.  Your thoughts?

Our Social Field of Poetry and Poetics

Panelists: Fred Moten, Jena Osman, Joan Retallack, Rachel Blau DuPlessis, Rodrigo Toscano

What are we talking about (separately or together) when we speak about poetry and the socio-political?  How do we confront general politics (the world, the news, the city) and how do we confront the institutional politics of our own poetry world and the work of poetry? What, after certain critical clichés and overgeneralizations, do we want to say about social location and poetry (for instance, what do we mean now about ethnicity, class, gender, and other social markers)? What does ?the news? mean to us and how do we use it? What are the ethical and poethical questions raised by writing about the lives and struggles of others or of ourselves? What do the institutions we take most for granted in our community mean now: what do books mean now, the web, archives, the live reading.  What does our social field look like now for us as practitioners? Are we reproducing practices around power, reputation, career that should be interrogated?  How do our texts and our stances in the world speak our ethics and attitudes?

History / Tradition / Relation

Panelists: Tonya Foster, Ben Friedlander, K. Silem Mohammad, Elizabeth Willis

What sense of relation informs our present work?  Why does it still seem so natural for us to think about the history of poetry in terms of tradition? Or counter-tradition? Are there alternatives? Should radical poetic practices have their own historical method with regard to the body of work that precedes them?  How do we define, collectively, what we do? Is there a descriptive category that might be relevant in light of whatever directions new poetics have been taking in recent years? What would it include?  Of what use are the archaic, the arcane, and the analog? How do shifts in our delivery systems and in the location of our labor affect the way we value—or where we place—works of poetry?

What alternatives do we have to the corporate and institutional structures (visible and invisible) that shape our relation to language, information, and each other? How can those structures be used—or resisted— more effectively?

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