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)

Odysseus and the Sirens
Credits: Robert Wallace
Licence Source

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 Stephen Willey, Director of the Contemporary Poetics Research Centre.

Link to the event