UPDATE: [Poetry] Poetries of Numerousness: an international conference on poetry & poetics (01/15/09; 5/14-16/09)

full name / name of organization: 
J. Mark Smith
contact email: 

Poetries of Numerousness: Singularities, Movements, Idealities

Poetries of Numerousness, a two-and-half day conference on contemporary
English language poetry and poetics, will be held at Grant MacEwan
College, May 14-16, 2009. Plenary events will feature the following poets
and critics/scholars: Rachel Blau DuPlessis, Steve McCaffery, Erin Mouré,
and Les Murray.

George Oppen’s “Of Being Numerous” (1968) announced some sort of shift in
twentieth century poetry’s conception of itself. Poetry, Oppen implied,
had not kept up with the modern form of life, urban concentrations,
democracies, the masses. Traditional forms of poetic representation had
collided with newer aspirations: the “unearthly bonds / of the singular”
were threatened by “shipwreck.” And yet the lyric â€" unique word-work,
courtly artifact evolved to represent the singular value of the person â€"
shows no sign even now of vanishing from the world. How to explain the
persistence of lyric, even when the immortality of a handful of poems
down the centuries has been achieved at such cost (“the bitter logic of
the poetic principle,” in Allen Grossman’s words)? What is it about
contemporary conditions that â€" not for the first time â€" call for new
dispositions and dispensations of poetic energies? What inclusions /
exclusions are likely to lie ahead? what repetitions? Steve McCaffery has
characterized the contemporary scene as a “post-Babelism,” and quoted
approvingly the Romantic theorist J. G. Hamann’s account of a world in
which “every court, every school, every profession, every corporation,
every sect has its own language.” Theory since Romanticism has supplied
terminologies for the discernment of multiplicities and ideal
multiplicities. But, for all their variousnesses, have the poetries of
modernity ever been able to forsake the ideal of singularity?

Recognizing that there has been a divide in the last decade or two among
those who write experimentalist or avant-garde poetry, and those loyal to
the modernist and/or traditional virtues of verse, one of our key aims is
to promote amicable conversation among poets and scholars of different
filiations and theoretical allegiances.

We invite proposals for 20-minute papers, and for panels of papers, on a
wide range of topics, such as:

* points of contact between experimentalist and lyric (and/or narrative)
* communication and influence among poets of the different Englishes
* poetic translations and imitations in the Englishes
* argots and jargons and dialects
* “the one:many / mechanism we everywhere seek and renounce” (Ammons)
* poetries aspiring to the other arts
* alternative and/or innovative prosodies
* explorations and/or appraisals of particular bodies of work, schools,
* the persistence of modernisms / post-modernisms

We will consider papers dealing with any facet or aspect
of “numerousness” in English-language poetries from the late 18th century
to the present day so long as their thematic concerns pertain in some way
to the current moment.

Please submit conference paper proposals of not more than 250 words,
along with a very brief bio of not more than 100 words, to

Deadline: Jan. 15, 2009.

We intend to develop, edit and publish a volume of select writings from
the proceedings.

Conference organizers: (Dr.) Roger Davis and (Dr.) J. Mark Smith, Dept.
of English, Grant MacEwan College, Edmonton, Alberta.

Conference registration and information at:

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Received on Thu Nov 06 2008 - 23:46:22 EST