MLA 2022: Experimental Writing in the Anthropocene

deadline for submissions: 
March 1, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Orchid Tierney/Eric Schmaltz/ASLE
contact email: 

MLA '22 will be held 6–9 January, 2022 in Washington, DC. We invite abstracts for an ASLE-sponsored panel. 

In The Poethical Wager (2003), Joan Retallack investigates poetry’s relationship to direct social action to interrogate its affordances as a mode of intervention into the conditions of catastrophe, crisis, and precarity. Following Retallack, we wonder what responsibilities does experimental poetry––poetry that swerves away from conventional forms of linguistic and formal meaning-making––has during times of complex social, political, and ecological turbulence? How have poetry’s documentary, material, language- and sound-based strategies been mobilized to enact new modes of thinking through and against global crisis? These questions are perhaps even more prescient than Retallack could have imagined, given our current state of global affairs––the rapidly evolving catastrophes of global warming and climate disturbance, the COVID-19 pandemic, the ever-expanding inequalities of wealth, the rise of political totalitarianism––and the effects these endemics have on human and nonhuman life.  

The concerns outlined above are central to poets working in the contemporary field of letters, such as Angela Rawlings, Ed Roberson, Camille Dungy, Adam Dickinson, Brenda Hillman, Brenda Iijima, Caroline Bergvall, Craig Perez Santos, Jennifer Scappettone, Jordan Scott, Stephen Collis, Jordan Abel, Jonathan Skinner, Lehua M. Taitano, Kathy Jetil-Kijiner, M. NourbSe Phillips, Myung Mi Kim, Lisa Robertson, and others, who diversely shape the aesthetic and conceptual contours of poetry to dialogue with the complex and varied environmental crises of our time without yielding to nostalgia, terror, or despair. We invite abstracts from poets and/or academics, who engage with the ephemeral, enduring, sonic, social, conceptual, or visual registers of poetry within the unfolding conditions of the Anthropocene under crisis. In particular, we call for abstracts on North American and Anglophone poetry that are conversant with the notions of “social action” and “experiment” to produce rigorous hybrid modes of analysis. Abstracts may focus on experimental writing that pushes the boundaries of literary conventions, including poetry that engages with the archive, atmospheric or energy humanities, waste studies, site-specificity, visuality, acoustic ecologies, and Indigenous poetry. Please submit abstracts of 300 words and a 2-page CV to both tierney1@kenyon.edu and eschmaltz@brocku.ca.

Deadline: March 1.