After 'Barbaric Vast & Wild': A symposium & poetry festival


Outside-in / Inside-out

A Symposium / Poetry Festival on Outside and Subterranean Poetry                                                                                                                                                                                       University of Glasgow, Centre for Contemporary Arts and Glasgow Women’s Library: 5-7 October 2016


Inspired by the recently published fifth volume of Poems for the MillenniumBarbaric Vast & Wild: A Gathering of Outside & Subterranean Poetry from Origins to Present, this symposium will open up views to poetry past, present, and potentially future with the question: Is there something in poetry ‘outside’ (economically, racially, nationally, formally, etc.) and ‘subterranean’ (suppressed by political and poetic hegemonies) that may lie at the heart of the most vital poetic practice? In their new groundbreaking gathering, Jerome Rothenberg and John Bloomberg-Rissman have assembled a wide range of poems and related language works, in which outside/outsider and subterranean/subversive positions challenge the boundaries of poetry. Poetic form and substance may be rethought from these new perspectives as fundamental and generative; as the editors write: ‘conditions of outsideness may create … a field for the invention of new or special forms and modes of language.’

Outside-in / Inside-out will address the disparate realms of poetry created by, or emerging from, the condition of being outside dominant and official positions. Like Barbaric Vast & Wild, we encourage presentations on moments in the history of outside/subterranean poetry; yet ultimately we will pitch these findings towards contemporary poetry practices. For us, the terms ‘outside’ and ‘subterranean’ must include ideas not only discussed among successful poets and academics solely within a university setting; therefore the symposium will be held in venues with varying access to public audiences and participants, including the University of Glasgow, the Glasgow Centre for Contemporary Arts (CCA), and the Glasgow Women’s Library.  In our symposium, ‘outside’ and ‘subterranean’ also imply modes of formal presentation that may subvert the typical conference format.  If the participant wishes, he or she may replace or modify so-called critical/scholarly work with so-called ‘creative’ or performance work, and vice versa.  In order to generate many approaches to the framework of outsideness, the three-day symposium will include a mix of panel presentations, roundtable discussions, workshops, and (two evenings at the CCA) readings and performances.

We are fortunate to be able to supplement these events with three exhibitions:

1) the history of Concrete poetry as an outside art through the archives of Bob Cobbing and Hansjörg Mayer  2) the Concrete poetry of two Scottish poets, Ian Hamilton Finlay and Edwin Morgan  and 3) ‘The Homeless Library’, a poetry and art collaboration by homeless people in Manchester.

 An exciting line-up of poets, researchers, and curators have already confirmed attendance, including among others Charles Bernstein, Sean Bonney, Andrea Brady, Julie Carr, Phillip Davenport, Gerrie Fellows, Bronac Ferran, Alec Finlay, Sara Guyer, Pierre Joris, Tom Leonard, Gerry Loose, Aonghas MacNeacail, Peter Manson, Maggie O’Sullivan, Sandeep Parmar, Holly Pester, Nicole Peyrafitte, and Jerome Rothenberg.

 The conference organisers invite proposals for ten to twenty-minute creative and/or scholarly papers and performances. Possible topics for presentations include, but are not limited to:

  • Problems of defining ‘outside’ in poetry and poetics:

 What is ‘outside’? What is ‘inside’? Can one become the other?

  • How do ‘outside’ and ‘subterranean’ differ from each other?
  • Are ‘outside’ and ‘subterranean’ useful terms for exploring poetics?
  • What are the values and risks involved in recuperating ‘outside’ poetry?
  • Sociological and historical analyses of styles and movements of ‘outside’ poetry, or poetry produced from cultural, political and economic marginalization.

 Historical instances of ‘outside’ poetry and poetics:

 A tradition of the outside or subterranean poets: e.g. William Langland, William Blake, John Clare

  • 18-19th Century women’s poetry
  • Pre-20th Century working class poetry
  • The relationship of ‘outside’ or ‘subterranean’ poetry to movements such as Romanticism and Modernism
  • Barbaric Vast & Wild and the politics of anthologies

 The relationship between ‘outside’ poetry and formal experiment and/or experimental art, e.g. Concrete poetry, Text Art, New Media poetries.

 Readings of non-poetic material and ephemera as poetry.

 The role of archives and distribution in the formation of ‘outside’ and ‘subterranean’ poetry.

 Formally and politically subversive gestures of ‘outside’ poetry and poetics: e.g. ‘nomad’ poetics.

 Poetry which may be considered ‘outside’ or ‘subterranean’ such as:

 –      Art brut

–      Women’s work

–      Popular and newspaper poetry

–      Works responding to conditions of deliberate, self-imposed exile

–      Works created out of/responding to outsider-ness due to physical and mental circumstances, disability, race, sexuality, homelessness, economics, class, gender, political stance, etc.

–      Works which dispense with genre boundaries or operate meaningfully across them

–      Works in dialects and ‘nation languages’

–      Ancient prophetic writing

–      Song forms such as ballads, rap, pop

 Please send an abstract of up to 300 words by 15th April 2016 to: outside poetry [at] gmail [dot] com. We will endeavour to respond by 31st May 2016.

 The organisers of Outside-in / Inside-out are:

 Dr Colin Herd, University of Glasgow

Dr Lila Matsumoto, University of Edinburgh

nick-e melville, University of Glasgow

Professor Jeffrey Robinson, University of Glasgow

Dr Calum Rodger, University of Glasgow

Dr Nuala Watt, University of Glasgow