Poetry and Voice, 25th June -27th June 2010

full name / name of organization: 
University of Chichester
contact email: 

Poetry and Voice, a creative and critical conference.

University of Chichester, West Sussex, U.K. Dates: June 25th-June 27th 2010

Deadline for proposals: 1st February 2010


Confirmed keynote readers/speakers: the UK poet laureate, Professor Carol Ann Duffy; poet and co-editor of Modern Poetry in Translation, David Constantine; co-editor of MPT Helen Constantine; modern American war poet, Brian Turner.


In the study and writing of poetry, voice is considered the essence which makes the work live. Critics and editors talk of a 'distinctive voice' and of poets 'finding their voice'. But what is 'voice' in poetry? What if a writer inhabits distinctly different voices as in the practice of the dramatic monologue or in the work of a Pessoa or Browning? Where does the voice of poet and subject overlap? How are such voices formed? How does one  'find' one's voice? And why is the finding of a voice expressed as a sense of discovery?

Furthermore, what is 'finding one's voice'?  A matter of identity? And is that identity stylistic, national, ethnic, gendered, age-related? Is it the voice of a generation (as so frequently stated) or a time? What are the pressures of history and culture that create a distinctive voice?

            Poets have often chosen the subject of voice itself as their material, the physicality or echoing of a voice (voice and memory, as in Hardy's 'The Voice'). What is the relationship between voice and silence; between giving voice and enforced silences? (e.g. in the work of Mandelstam, Akhmatova, Ritsos and Ovid). How does the voice of the poet reveal yet conceal?

            War poets conjure with their right, or not, to use the language of an invaded country. What choices do we make in employing voices and language not our own, whether in translation or in our own poetry?

            And what of the lyric voice? All three of our confirmed guest poets employ the lyric voice to great effect. The lyric voice is ambiguous, both our own and not our own voice.

            This creative and critical conference is open to academics and poets who would like to reflect on voice in poetry either through reading their own work, giving a paper, or, as is appropriate with so many poets now working in the academy, by giving a hybrid reading/presentation, where they read some of their own work and reflect on the use or influences of voice.

            Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

-       dramatic monologues or riddles

-       the lyric voice

-       the physical manifestation of voice in poetry e.g. timbre, sound, style, song

-       finding one's voice, the losing of a voice

-       writing in many voices

-       forgotten voices

-       page and stage voices, recorded and live voices

-       the voices of the landscape or city

-       the voices of war or peace

-       dialect voices, marginal voices

-       voice and style

-       voice and identity

-       intertextual use of voices

-       international voices

-       translating voice

-       voice themed workshop proposals


Please send one of the following:

a 250 word proposal for a twenty minute paper; a 500 word proposal for a forty minute lecture; a selection of 4-6 poems on the topic and a writer's c.v. of not more than 500 words; a proposal of 250 words outlining the nature of your hybrid reading/presentation and four poems;a proposal of 250 words outlining your specific workshop idea and how you would run it.


Send to the conference convenor Stephanie Norgate, s.norgate@chi.ac.uk , and write 'Poetry and Voice' in the subject line. Please use an RTF or Word attachment. Proposals will be vetted by a conference committee of practising poets and academics.


We hope to publish a book length anthology of creative, critical and hybrid pieces on poetry and voice.