CFP: [Poetry] CFP

full name / name of organization: 
Michael Kindellan
contact email: 


The University of Sussex’s School of Humanities, in conjunction with the Centre for Modernist
Studies, invites submissions for papers to be given at the following conference, scheduled for
Friday the 16th and Saturday the 17th of May 2008:

Long Poems ::: Major Forms

The ‘long poem’ has been traditionally conceived of as the principal means by which poets
confront political and aesthetic problems through sustained investigations. Beyond this general
outline, or indeed perhaps because of it, there is little consensus as to either what the long poem
is, or what it might be uniquely capable of. In ‘The Poetic Principle,’ Edgar Allen Poe went so far
as to assert that “a long poem does not exist” since “the ultimate, aggregate, or absolute effect
of even the best epic under the sun, is a nullity.” Years later, and seeking to resolve the technical
and affective dilemmas that Poe identified, Charles Olson prescribed a ‘projective verse’ that he
purported might carry “much larger material than it has carried in our language since the
Elizabethans.” He thought Pound’s Cantos exemplified the beginnings of such poetry, displaying
a methodology capable of solving “problems of larger content and of larger forms.”

This conference seeks to address the contemporary relevance of the long poem: how has it
evolved, what standing does it currently hold, and who are now its readers? As both a poetic and
a critical concept, the ‘long poem’ presents poets with the difficulty of articulating what Pound
called “a compound of freedom and order” that “hangs between chaos on the one side and
mechanics on the other.” We hope this conference will provide a forum for the consideration of
ways in which comprehensive, often formally complex and expansive poems may respond, or fail
to respond, to certain “obligations toward the difficult whole,” and to explore what these
obligations might now entail for both poets and their readers. We therefore welcome proposals
for presentations addressing aesthetic, formal, generic, compositional and literary-historical
questions the ‘long poem’ brings into particular focus.


Papers should be no more than 20 minutes in length, and calibrated towards generating wider
discussion. Please send a 250-word abstract, along with a brief biographical note by 1st March
2008 to We will send out notifications shortly thereafter.

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Received on Sun Jan 13 2008 - 09:38:23 EST