What Can Poetry Do For Community?

A Roundtable Discussion – Monday 5 July 2021, 6pm – Online

Guest Speakers: Sarona Abuaker , Kayombo Chingonyi, Jérôme Game, Fran Lock, Matt Martin
Chairs: Steve Willey (Contemporary Poetics Research Centre), Nathalie Wourm (BRAKC)

This link will allow you to access the session

How does contemporary poetic practice engage with ideas of community? Does it provide any innovative perspectives on a type of relationality that can be conceived of as community? As a starting point, we can consider some of the notions put forward by Édouard Glissant in his Poetics of Relation (1990). If we accept his suggestion that relation can only be imagined, not defined, then it is clear that literature, poetry, and other creative arts represent a remarkable source of materials with which to consider concepts of community. Glissant, for instance, notes that paradoxically “the great founding books of communities, the Old Testament, the Iliad, the Odyssey, the Chansons de Geste, the Islandic Sagas, the Aeneid, or the African epics, were aIl books about exile and often about errantry.” Referring back to Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus (1980), he opposes the fixity of the rooted community based on the negation of the Other, to the nomadic, rhizomatic community of métissage, multiplicity, diversity, which he considers to be at its most accomplished today. So, if the conditions of relationality are made (a poiesis), how are they made in poetry right now? Is Glissant right in suggesting that selfhood and otherness have become porous, and that communities are now rhizomatic? What discourse does current poetic practice generate on community? And is it politically radical?

Each guest speaker will give a five-minute talk. This will be followed by a discussion and then by questions and comments from the audience

This event is co-organised with DR Nathalie Wourm , Director of BRAKC (Birkbeck Research in Aesthetics of Kinship and Community)

This link will allow you to access the session

About the participants

Matt Martin is Stuart Hall Research Scholar at Birkbeck, University of London, where he has been teaching English and Creative Writing while completing a PhD on the use of dialect and nation language by experimental poets like Kamau Brathwaite and Bill Griffiths. His own poetry collections include full spectrum apotheosis (Contraband Books, 2013) and the dotted line (Gang Press, 2019). His visual poems have appeared in exhibitions at the Southbank Centre and the Poetry Society. He maintains Innovative Poetry Readings in London, a listing of poetry activities in the capital: http://www.bbk.ac.uk/cprc/readings/ 

Fran Lock is the author of numerous chapbooks and seven poetry collections, most recently Contains Mild Peril (Out-Spoken Press, 2019). Hyena! Jackal! Dog!, a short collection of poems and essays is due from Pamenar Press; her eighth full collection Hyena! from Poetry Bus Press later in the year. She is an Associate Editor at Culture Matters, currently finalising edits to The Cry of the Poor, an anthology of new writing about poverty. Fran edits the Soul Food column for Communist Review, and is a member of the new editorial advisory board for the Journal of British and Irish Innovative Poetry. 

Kayo Chingonyi was born in Zambia in 1987, and moved to the UK at the age of six. In 2012, he was awarded a Geoffrey Dearmer Prize, and was Associate Poet at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in 2015. His first full-length collection, Kumukanda, won the Dylan Thomas Prize and a Somerset Maugham Award. Kayo was a Burgess Fellow at the Centre for New Writing, University of Manchester before joining Durham University as Assistant Professor of Creative Writing. He is a writer and presenter for the music and culture podcast Decode on Spotify and his most recent collection A Blood Condition, just out with Chatto & Windus, is shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Collection. He is working towards a practice-based PhD on poetry and digital sampling at Birkbeck, University of London. 

Sarona Abuaker is a poet and artist.  Her mixed-media essay ‘Suture Fragmentations – A Note on Return‘ is published with KOHL: A Journal for Body and Gender Research, and her poems are featured in Berfrois, MAP Magazine, and The 87 Press Digital Poetics series.  She is currently writing her debut collection ‘Why So Few Women On The Street At Night’ (to be released by The 87 Press in 2021), a queer phenomenology of collective Palestinian futurisms and memory building layering visual cultures, essays and poems, to approach territories as different as Turtle Island, Brockley and Palestine.  She is based in London. 

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