NeMLA Roundtable: Poetry in the Public Sphere

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
Northeast Modern Language Association
contact email: 

Creative Writing, Editing and Publishing / Cultural Studies and Media StudiesChair(s)

Mary Buchinger Bodwell (MCPHS University)


In addition to the growing popularity of appointing poets laureate in cities and towns across the United States, related municipal projects are currently underway to bring poetry into the public sphere through the installation of poems on city sidewalks, buses and trains, in public parks, etc. Given the possibility of meaningful civic engagement with poetry, this movement is ripe for scrutiny and discussion. This roundtable welcomes submissions from those involved in any aspect of bringing poetry into public spaces to consider and discuss the following questions: What does meaningful public engagement with poetry look like? What are the tensions and possibilities for poets engaged in civic spheres? How is poetry a public art? What has the role of poetry/ art been in expanding our ideas of citizenship? How has poetry supported or been a form of activism? What does the intersection of art and activism look like? What is the difference between art and activism? Is poetry/art ever devoid of politics? (How) has poetry/ art been appropriated by governments? After a brief discussion of these questions by the roundtable panelists, the audience will be invited to comment and to engage in Q & A.


DescriptionThis roundtable explores the possibilities and the limitations of civic engagement with poetry, including questions regarding activism and sponsorship, and tensions between the private self and a public audience.