UPDATE: [International] Before and after 9/11: American Political Poetry from 1989 to 2009

full name / name of organization: 
Emma Kimberley
contact email: 

Call for papers
Before and after 9/11: American Political Poetry from 1989 to 2009
A one-day conference at the University of Leicester
19th June 2009
The twenty-year span from the end of the Cold War to 2009, a period that
has 9/11 almost at its mid-point, has been a fertile one for American
poetry. Especially in the wake of 9/11 and the “war on terror” poets have
re-engaged with politics: recent poems have commented on Guantanamo, the
political responses to 9/11, the war of image and rhetoric waged by the
government against the American people and America’s role in Iraq. Poets
have also tackled environmental and cultural policies. Post-Cold War
politics has had an undeniable impact on contemporary poetry, but can
poetry, with its minority audience, exert any influence in return?
Jorie Graham has said that one of the fundamental aims of poetry should
be to provide a language that will counter the meaninglessness of the
targeted language used in politics. She perceives the 21st century reader
as one who ‘doesn’t trust language any more as a medium for truth â€"
because of advertising, because of government, because of the atrocities
language has carried in its marrow’. Poets such as Robert Hass, Claudia
Rankine, Mark Doty and Bob Perelman, to name only a few, have added their
voices to this sense of political disillusionment, shaded by different
ideals of what poetry can achieve.
We invite papers that investigate any aspect of American poetry’s
engagement with politics, from Canada and Latin America as well as the
United States, taking into account poems written about or in response to
American political decisions in the decades either side of the turn of
the 21st century. We are especially interested in papers that explore
formal and ideological developments in American poetry across this
period, either through the investigation of changing priorities and
themes or through developments in the work of specific poets.
Papers could address:
• the capacity of poetry to counter politics effectively
• the idea that poetry can make things happen
• the similarities between the uses of language in poetry and in
political life
• comparisons between the poet and the politician as public
figures, especially in Latin America
• poetry after 9/11
• political poems about the environment or the construction of
cultural memory
• poetry that politicises ideas on gender and/or sexuality
• the political aims of language poetry
• resistance through formal innovation
• responses to the images of 9/11 and the Iraq war

Please submit 200 word proposals for 20 minute papers to Emma Kimberley
(ek36_at_le.ac.uk) by 2nd March 2009.

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Received on Sun Feb 08 2009 - 06:30:15 EST