(Sur)Realpolitik: Political Poetry in the Post-Truth Era

From Bertold Brecht to Allen Ginsburg, from Maya Angelou to Zoe Leonard, poetry has long been working the front lines of political critique. In this context poetry has functioned as deft analyses of power, songs of mourning, intimate dispatches on marginalized experiences, and rallying cries toward radical dreams. What role, then, does poetry play in today's fiercely divided media landscape? How can this technology, one at once ancient and pioneering, help us to investigate contemporary crises and gain steadier ground in the fight toward an equitable world?

Poetry & Gothic Regionalism

This roundtable will be part discussion and part reading from creative work that engages with the Gothic imagination specifically as it relates to regionalism. The reading will serve to highlight, focus, and contextualize the participants' discussion. We will present ideas and definitions of Gothic regionalism and explore its re-emergence in contemporary poetry, looking closely at the Midwestern and Southern Gothic subgenres through a creative and critical lens.

Healing Measures: Poetry as a technology for creating resilience

Scientific research has shown that expressive writing about trauma strengthens the immune system, decreases obsessive thinking, and contributes to the overall health of the writer. How does writing create this increase in resilience, and what features of expressive poetic writing in particular might be leveraged to amplify a healing effect? To what extent can the positive impacts of writing about pain be extrapolated beyond personal individual traumas to cultural and generational traumas?

Polyvocal Strategies: On & Off the Page

Translation, code-switching, machine learning, vulgarities: four poets read and discuss diverse works in multiple voices. As voices split, assemble, dissipate, and congeal, we interrogate the singular authorial voice. How do multiple voices emerge from various poetic forms, live performance, and interactions with other media? Who are we in the moment we are today in the space we need to inhabit in order to keep surviving?

Does Who You Are Affect Who Publishes You (and who you want to publish you)

Poets and editors of factory hollow press, The Hollins Criticjubilat, Mississippi Review and New World Writing focus on how who they are and their experiences have defined who and what they publish and why. Women editors----from Toni Morrison to Joyce Carol Oates to  Harriet Monroe to Rebecca Wolff to Anne Waldman to Eileen Myles---have historically created trends and controversy. VIDA has shown that editorial bias can be counted on to continue; their yearly count, plain and simple, can't be denied.

Queer Asian American Experiments in Performance

Timothy Yu writes that Asian American poetry has, from its inception, undertaken "bold experiments with form and style in the search for an Asian American aesthetic." And queer poetics have long been a site for rethinking the relationships between identity, performativity, and form. In this reading/performance, four queer/trans Asian American poets will present works that approach performance with a spirit of experimentation. Coming from backgrounds ranging from multimedia performance, to spoken word, to drag, these poets will ask: How does a poem live in the body?

In the “Likeness” of Authenticity: Poetry, Appropriation and Identity

In her October 24, 2019 essay, “Fascinated to Presume: In Defense of Fiction,” in The New York Review of Books, Zadie Smith offers less a “defense” of imagining and inhabiting the lives of others, characters and people unlike her in every possible sense (gender, sexual orientation, race, class, ethnicity, nationality, etc.) than a description of her own practices and prejudices (she criticizes the culture of “likeness,” that one can only write about, inhabit the bodies of, people who are “like” us in terms of sexual orientation, gender, race, class, etc.).

Holding space: on building a community reading series


Alex Jennings, Jessica Kinnison, Taylor Murrow, and Cate Root have been hosting Dogfish, a popular mixed-genre reading series, since February 2015. Once a month, Kinnison opens her home to anywhere between 40 and 100 people who pack the house on a Thursday night to hear from celebrated writers from New Orleans and across the country. Over the past several years, the organizers have worked together to make sure the series reflects their values:

Surrealism, Cognitive Science, Recursive Neural Networks, & Associational Pattern Development in Poetry

Juxtaposition and fusion of disparate elements to create associational imagery is the bedrock of poetry. We all know the famous example from Lautréamont: "as beautiful as the chance encounter on a dissecting table of a sewing machine and an umbrella." But why do some images sparked from juxtaposition electrify the poem while others fall flat?