Thinking Its Presence 2017 has ended
Events from 9:00am to 5:00pm are open only to registered attendees. Please register before October 9, 2017 at https://universityofarizonapoetrycenter.submittable.com/submit/81274/pre-registration-thinking-its-presence-2017-conference-university-of-arizon. For more information, please visit https://poetry.arizona.edu/TIP2017.
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Thursday, October 19 • 9:00am - 10:50am
Innovation And Embodiment In Contemporary African American Poetics

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Innovation and Embodiment in Contemporary African American Poetics

Panel Abstract

“For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house”
-Audre Lorde

This panel represents a range of poetry and poetics projects by graduate students and faculty at the University of Texas, Austin. Home to one of the nation’s premiere MFA programs, UT-Austin is the site of a thriving community of poet-scholars that refuses the divide between critics and artists that often divides English departments.  The work represented on this panel engages the intersections of race and language with a focus on innovation in contemporary poetry.  In light of this year’s theme “The Ephemeral Archive,” the proposed papers explore aspects of tradition/experimentation, form/deformation, and embodiment/performance with the intent to trace, recover, challenge and/or reimagine. Although the panelists approach the capacious subject of ephemerality differently, each engages the conference’s call to rigorously reckon with received, lived, and creatively-crafted epistemologies by artists of color.  Jeffrey Boruszak engages the work of one of this year’s keynote speakers, Douglas Kearney. He pays particular attention to Kearney’s typographical innovation and argues that the poet’s form of “ekoustic” writing, a style that captures the dynamism of post-soul performance, likewise holds within it the powers of cultural critique and knowledge making. Where Kearney’s typographically distinct poems resound loudly on the page, Harryette Mullen’s tanka verses are deceptively quiet; however, the tanka’s brief and ordinary nature belie their scope and impact. Rebecca Macmillan finds that Mullen’s daily and quotidian archival writing  practice brings into relief urgent social crises such as environmental destruction and systemic inequalities based on race and class. Likewise, Sequoia Maner examines the artist’s role as documenter, archivist, and storyteller.  She examines how writer-rapper Kendrick Lamar revives and embodies the late Tupac Shakur as a symbol of social dissent and, moreover, provides an aesthetic counterpart to #BlackLivesMatter public policy-minded aims. Although she engages modes of analysis outside of academia, she too foregrounds the poetics of Tupac’s sonic resurrection. Lisa L. Moore’s paper aims to redirect and expand conversations about Lorde’s work to include her innovative, “sonnet-like” strategies and thereby, remove the author from the “prism of autobiography” she has thus far been relegated to. Our panel chair is CantoMundo founder and former UT faculty member Deborah Paredez--a scholar-poet whose work on black and latina/x performance examines the intersections of race, queerness, performance, and writing.

Together, the panelists aim to tackle a range of questions that, at their roots, signal the desire for futurity. How must we remember Lorde and will we have done her work deserved justice? How do hip-hop aesthetes both honor and critique a nostalgic past in moving toward new visions of being in the world? How does one cultivate a creative practice of mindfulness and what might one do with that in the world? In thinking through these questions, the panelists confront the lingering and urgent crises that continue to shape and constrain lives of the most vulnerable of our society: institutional and interpersonal violence, social protest and social justice, misrepresentation and erasure. The panelists present a group of artists--Audre Lorde, Douglas Kearney, Harryette Mullen, and Kendrick Lamar--who together, provide the languages and tools needed for dismantling and rebuilding. How marvelous.



avatar for Jeffrey Kyle Boruszak

Jeffrey Kyle Boruszak

PhD Candidate, University of Texas at Austin

Thursday October 19, 2017 9:00am - 10:50am
Vine Annex 1125 N. Vine. Ave., Tucson AZ

Attendees (11)