University of Sussex and the Poetics Research Centre, Royal Holloway, University of London present:
Race and Poetry and Poetics in the UK
9.30am-6pm, Saturday 27th February 2016
Bedford Square, London
In 2015, discussions about race and contemporary poetry and poetics in North America have dominated creative and critical communities. Following Boston Review’s forum on ‘Race and the Poetic Avant-Garde’, co-curated by Dorothy Wang, boundary 2 published the dossier ‘On Race and Innovation’ this November. The Mongrel Coalition Against Gringpo continues to mobilise social media, disseminating their anti-racist and anti-colonial campaigns. The whiteness of the avant-garde and conceptual art and poetry has been disclosed, and readers, writers, and critics are asked to consider their complicity in a movement inextricable from its racialized and possibly racist origins.
How do these discussions relate to poetry and poetics in the UK? How do readers, writers, and critics address the complexities of social and political histories and contemporary realities of race in British and Irish contexts? How do racialized assumptions structure and determine English language poetics and aesthetics? Why are the intersections between literary tradition and contemporary practice and post-colonialism, diaspora, racial identity and inequality so rarely addressed? This year, Claudia Rankine’s Citizen: An American Lyric won the Forward Prize for Best Collection; Andrea Brady published an article stating ‘The White Privilege of British Poetry is Getting Worse’; and Paul Gilroy discussed racism in Britain in the interview ‘What “Black Lives” Means in Britain’. Furthermore, the issues of the pressures on multiculturalism – with rising xenophobia, racialized policing, immigration policy and detention, and material inequality stratified along racial lines – hold great significance for the current of cultural production in the UK. This event will create a platform for questions, dialogues, and collaborations in response to the subject of race and poetry and poetics in the UK.
We invite contributions in the form of short presentations (10-15 minutes), workshop activities (25-50 minutes), topics and texts for group discussion (25-50 minutes), and poetry readings and performances. We hope to schedule two panel discussions and two workshops during the day (at Bedford Square), and a programme of poetry readings and performances in the evening (venue to be confirmed).
We intend to record presentations, readings, and performances, and to make them available on our website. It is our hope that the questions, dialogues, and collaborations initiated by the event will continue online. This event is part of a larger project, which will include further events, digital media, and creative and critical publications.
Race and Poetry and Poetics in the UK is an international research group founded by Dr Sam Solomon (University of Sussex) and Professor Dorothy Wang (Williams College). The steering committee, which includes Professor Robert Hampson (Royal Holloway, University of London), Nat Raha (University of Sussex), and Dr Nisha Ramayya, is organising a programme of events and activities that will take place at various sites in the UK, internationally, and online.