Poetry, Community, and Formal Innovation

full name / name of organization: 
Meta DuEwa Jones and Chad Bennett, The University of Texas at Austin

Poetry, Community, and Formal Innovation

This proposed university press collection, inspired by and developed from a year-long series of poetry readings and poetics symposia at the University of Texas at Austin, will investigate form and formal innovation in and across diverse poetic communities and traditions. In the 1980s, some feminist, queer, and African-American poets spoke of traditional poetic form as "the master's tools," in Audre Lorde's memorable phrase. Debates within feminist, queer, and multi-ethnic studies about the nature of traditional formal artistry, formal "mastery," and experimentalism have evolved since that time. The new ways that various communities of writers continue to redefine both poetic form and social identity have allowed other, often generative perspectives on the status of form. At the same time, the now well established contributions of the last decades' major critical movements—ranging from post-structuralism to cultural studies to New Historicism—together make possible an integrated kind of scholarship, one attentive to poetics and politics in strong, mutual relation. We seek to engage and extend recent critical and creative work on community and poetic practice, and welcome proposals for essays that explore community as both a set of material and social practices and an aesthetic category. Emphasis will go to the poetry of the present, but we expect that will require strong engagement with literary pasts.

The collection will reflect intersections of poetic and scholarly communities; it will include poems, interviews, and roundtable discussions as well as scholarly essays. We especially welcome proposals for essays that innovate within that genre or integrate elements of others.

Possible topics include (but are not limited to):

—new definitions of form, formalism, and/or formal innovation
—influences of race, ethnicity, class, gender, and/or sexuality on formal choices and practices
—poetic forms within and across distinctive ethnic cultural traditions (e.g. the ghazal, bop, blues, décima)
—histories, reclaimings, and futures of particular received forms
—community and social practices as a source of form
—poetic practices, forms, and traditions associated with particular contemporary or historic poetry communities (e.g. Cave Canem, VONA, Nuyorican Poets Collective, Cante Mundo)
—poetic form and affective histories, or form and counter-archives
—poetries of witness, speaking for communities (others' or one's own)
—translation, including translation of forms; translation and diasporic or transnational poetics
—the poet-scholar
—new media and formal innovation; digital communities and digital poetries

Please send abstracts of up to 500 words and an abbreviated (two page) vita by June 15 to Meta DuEwa Jones and Chad Bennett at tiltspoetsandscholars@gmail.com.