BRITISH POETRY 1875-2010 AND RESISTANCE 3-4 JUNE 2010
BRITISH POETRY 1875-2010 AND RESISTANCE
INTERNATIONAL POETRY CONFERENCE, ARTOIS UNIVERSITY, ARRAS, FRANCE, 3-4 JUNE 2010
Organised by Textes et Cultures, Artois (EA 4028) in collaboration with CRILA (JE 2356), Angers University.
What is it that resists in a poem? What is the poem resisting? And what is the reader resisting in the poem? Poets are caught up within time and history, but also try to resist being conquered by time and to oppose its sometimes destructive course. Poetry is by definition an art by which the individual – the poet – resists current cultural standards and the lowest common denominator. The poet calls into question the established order. In a relativistic world, poetry is a quest for the Absolute, be it linguistic, philosophical or religious, or all three, as is the case for Hopkins and Eliot. Geoffrey Hill argues that through the beautiful and moving character of the poem, the poet works against what Hill calls 'the debasement of language'.
Papers may focus on:
- the reception of a particular poem or volume: why does poetry inspire resistance in readers or non-readers? ' We read poetry not to escape difficulty but to embrace it' (James Longenbach, 2004);
- a poet's resistance to his own past works and standpoints; the question of a poet's later revisions of his own work;
- the resistance of a particular poem or poet to (1) interpretation and (2) translation: the multiplicity of interpretations and translations is a sign of the fecundity of resistance within a poem;
- 'syntactical difficulty' in Hopkins's poetry 'underpinned by etymological and phonetic resistance' (Prynne);
- writer's block, barren periods in producing poetry; for Hugo Williams and perhaps other poets, it is a matter of finishing (or not finishing) a poem or a collection;
- poetry, and resistance as carrying with it notions of protest or contestation; the resistance at various levels of 'war poetry';
- British and Irish poets' (Hughes', Heaney's etc) powerful responses to Eastern European poetry, especially in the seventies and eighties;
- J.H. Prynne, and the idea he puts forward in his seminal article 'Resistance and Difficulty', that the creative imagination offers 'both the difficulty of contrivance and also a profound assurance that this difficulty corresponds to genuine resistance in the larger context of the outside world.'; the link between resistance and difficulty in poetry;
- the popularity of certain contemporary poets like Steve Turner and Roger McGough; do these poets lend themselves to serious criticism and scholarship; does academia resist them (if such is the case) because their language lacks resistance?
- poetry as resistance to a dominant trend, a lukewarm or indifferent social consensus, the standardization of society, so that, as Hill writes, the poem becomes 'one of the instruments of resistance to the drift of the age';