My “Accessibility and the avant-garde” conference will feature many readings, lectures, and panel discussions. A full schedule will be available, soon. This year’s conference will continue pressing conversations begun at past conferences I’ve organized, including, “How poems should force you to rethink your premises,” “Poetry practice may accumulate many perspectives, disrupt frames and boundaries, prepare ideas and definitions for the stutter, fall, or disaster waiting around the corner” and “Poetry as one particular kind of work that approaches the exact world approached by other work.”
Conference highlights will include:
A panel discussion about the work of the poet writing to different audiences. The first panelist will present a paper including an anecdote about a writing program where a young poet is told by the workshop leader that poets may choose to be experimental and read by experimental poets, or be a program poet and be read by those poets, but not both. The second panelist will read a paper, “The product is not the same as the process” and make a distinction between speech as access to deep feelings vs. writing as access to language. Time will be allotted for questions.
A panel discussion celebrating poetry as an alternate form of inquiry. Panelists imagine other outcomes than a well-wrought urn; a table where the document, not the poet, is important; a table where it’s every poet’s job to make a poem out of that.
A panel discussion on the social function of poetry. Papers include: “How to use poetry to add a necessary complexity to what is missing from the news;” “Right now, we need for poetry to do more;” and “Poems that are working in separate fields but making corresponding arguments and similar explanations.” A panelist will read Allen Ginsberg’s America and feel uncomfortable saying niggers and saying Chinamen.
A panel discussion about twelve poets sitting around a big table talking about difficult poems. These poems are difficult not because difficulty is what happens before a poem is understood, but because the poet has chosen to make a poem from problems, and problems are often difficult. Panelists will talk about how each poem has its own model of production; will acknowledging the well-wrought urn is a made thing and need not be placed on the table; will say it’s ok to prefer the poem be made during these collective discussions.
A lecture about how reading things which are original, authentic and coherent can be uncomfortable. The speaker will speak from the platform they are working to fight, describing who have “really suffered” and made those experiences into poems. Respondents will resist questions which lead them towards saying a progress narrative.
A lecture on the urgent need for the poet to shift focus from craft to choice.
A lecture detailing the use of emergent technologies in the classroom to model a reading (and writing) practice that are participatory and collective, where immediacy, simultaneity and nonlinearity are possible and a classroom’s conversations and actions model how we might work things out by working on them together. Teaching writing and reading and meaning making as collaborative acts, rather than private inspired performances by a solitary individual.
A panel discussion evaluating sets of poems of inclusion and alienation. About the difficult for editors who must select from the work of selves while believing in a poetry whose poets are not selves, but instead, bodies made of shipwrecked, appropriated, redistributed, copied, unoriginal, and otherwise numerous selves.
The conference will end with a poetry reading where all the poems include history. Where the avant-garde is always pedagogical.