CPRC: Border Blurs – Concrete Poetry in England and Scotland. 5 December 6-9pm

The Birkbeck Contemporary Poetics Research Centre (CPRC) invites you to the launch of Border Blurs: Concrete Poetry in England and Scotland (Liverpool University Press). We are celebrating the launch of Greg Thomas’ fantastic book with an evening of papers and discussion on the practice of Concrete Poetry in both its British and international contexts.

Date: 5 December 2019

Location: Room B13, 43 Gordon Square, School of Arts, Birkbeck University

Time: 6-9pm

You can get a free ticket on Eventbrite here.  

More About the Launch 

6 pm – Welcome and Reception

6:15 – Introductions Steve Willey, Lecturer in Creative and Critical Writing, Birkbeck and Director of the CPRC

6:20 – Greg Thomas, ‘Ian Hamilton Finlay, Albert Speer and the Ideology of the (Concrete) Aesthetic’

6:35 – ‘Exploring Border Blurs’ a Q&A with Bronac Ferran and Greg Thomas

6:50 – Bronac Ferran, ‘Letters to Mayer’

7:05 –  Nicola Simpson, ‘dsh and yantramantra: typestract as poemscore and prayer’

7:20 – Interval

7:35 – Matt Martin, ‘Ports in a Storm: Bill Griffiths’ Forming Four Dock Poems’

7:50 – Rebecca Kosic, ‘Transatlantic Connections: Concrete poetry in the American Hemisphere’

8:05 pm – General Q&A Chaired by Steve Willey

8:30-9 pm – End

About the participants 

Dr Greg Thomas Greg is an independent scholar and recent British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow based in London.

Dr Rebecca Kosick is Lecturer in the School of Modern Languages at the University of Bristol and Co-Director of the Bristol Poetry Institute. She is the author of two books forthcoming in 2020: Material Poetics in Hemispheric America: Words and Objects, 1950-2010 (Edinburgh University Press) and a poetry collection, Labor Day (Golias Books).

Matt Martin is Stuart Hall Research Scholar at Birkbeck, researching the use of nation language and dialect in avant-garde poetry. His own poetry collections include full spectrum apotheosis (Contraband Books) and the dotted line (Gang Press). He maintains the event listings page Innovative Poetry Readings in London (http://www.bbk.ac.uk/cprc/readings).

Bronac Ferran is a PhD candidate in English and the Humanities at Birkbeck working on Hansjörg’s Mayer’s ‘typoems’ of the nineteen sixties. She is the author of ‘The Smell of Ink and Soil: The Story of Edition Hansjörg Mayer’ (2017) and the recently appointed Manager of the Institute for the Humanities at Birkbeck.

Dr Nicola Simpson is a curator and researcher at Norwich University of the Arts. Her interests are in discussing, experiencing and performing the influence of Zen and Tantric Buddhisms on British counter-cultural art and writing. She is editor of The Cosmic Typewriter: The Life and Work of Dom Sylvester Houédard (Occasional Papers, 2012) and co-editor of Dom Sylvester Houédard (Richard Saltoun, Riding House, 2017).

About Border Blurs

This book offers the first in-depth account of the relationship between English and Scottish poets and the international concrete poetry movement of the 1950s to the 1970s. Concrete poetry was a literary and artistic style which reactivated early twentieth-century modernist impulses towards the merging of artistic media, while simultaneously speaking to a gamut of contemporary contexts, from post-1945 reconstruction to cybernetics, mass media and the sixties counter-culture. The terms of its development in England and Scotland suggest new ways of mapping ongoing complexities in the relationship between the two national cultures, and of tracing broader sociological and cultural trends in Britain during the 1960s and 1970s. Focusing especially on the work of Ian Hamilton Finlay, Edwin Morgan, Dom Sylvester Houédard and Bob Cobbing, Border Blurs is based on new and extensive archival and primary research, and will fill a vital gap in contemporary understandings of an important but much misunderstood genre: concrete poetry. It will also serve as a vital document for scholars and students of twentieth-century British literature, modern intermedia art and modernism, especially those interested in understanding modernism’s wide geographical spread and late twentieth-century legacies.

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Tuesday 23rd May 7.30 pm Contemporary Poetics Research Centre: Larry Kearney and Yeats

Larry Kearney: talk on Yeats followed by conversation.

7.30-9.00 pm Room 317, 43 Gordon Square.

Larry Kearney’s talk on the poetry of WB Yeats will inquire into what is meant by vision and image, and what is the relation between the poet’s conscious decisions and the visions that present themselves.

Kearney writes: ‘The guiding notion is that in poetry one doesn’t read and evaluate, one recognizes and deals with the reality of the recognition, and that the one overriding requirement for the poet is to be willing to write what the poem wants written when it wants it written, to be capable of the writing, and to free the personal so that the poem can use it as it sees fit, no matter what the resistance, or embarrassment.’

Born of Scottish and Irish parents, Larry Kearney has spent most of his life in northern California, where he was a member of Jack Spicer’s circle. His many books of poetry include Magic Town, which was published by Veer Books in 2016.

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Contemporary Poetics Research Centre: Poetry Reading, 30 November

Please join us on Wednesday, 30th November, 7:30-9pm, in the Keynes Library (43 Gordon Square) for a poetry reading featuring Allen Fisher, Fran Lock and Vicky Sparrow.

This reading is hosted by the Contemporary Poetics Research Centre, including some of Birkbeck’s PhD students working on contemporary poetry, Fran, Vicky and Bronac Ferran.

Biographies

Allen Fisher is a poet, artist and publisher, and the editor of Spanner magazine. He lives in Hereford, and is Emeritus Professor of Poetry and Art at Manchester Metropolitan University. Altogether Fisher has over 150 publications in his name consisting of art documentation, poetry and theory. In 2015 his book of essays Imperfect Fit: Aesthetic Function, Facture and Reception , a companion to his work with essays by contemporaries and an Allen Fisher Reader were all published.

Fran Lock is writing her practice based Ph.D. on the relationship between the epistolary form in contemporary poetry and the use of letters in therapeutic contexts. She is the author of two poetry collections Flatrock (Little Episodes, 2011) and The Mystic and the Pig Thief (Salt, 2014). A third collect, Dogtooth, will be published by Out-Spoken Press in in February 2017.

Vicky Sparrow is writing her PhD on the poet-activist Anna Mendelssohn at the CPRC. Vicky’s poems can be found in datableed, Litmus, Kakania and Intercapillary Space and she’s currently finalising a chapbook to be published by Zarf Editions this Winter.

Bronaċ Ferran is first year PhD/MPhil at Birkbeck researching the work of poet, publisher and typographer Hansjörg Mayer. She’s writing a book about Mayer’s work in concrete poetry and other fields which will be published early next year by Walther König books. She also presents radio programmes on Resonance fm.

All are very welcome to attend.

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Birkbeck Contemporary Poetics Research Centre – Welcome

The Birkbeck Contemporary Poetics Research Centre is a forum for student writers and poets interested in innovative kinds of poetry and poetics across all periods – as well as those interested in the field wanting to discuss and hear more – we run seminars and host readings by internationally known poets throughout the year, sponsor Veer Books, and have a long history of experiment in the form of online journals, festivals and other ventures. We’d like to encourage you to come along to events, and would be happy to put you on our email circulation if you’d like to be notified too. Have a look at our website on http://www.bbk.ac.uk/cprc/ for a sense of what we do – we are currently migrating and refreshing the site. In the meantime we have a public page here on facebook which will carry all news including a reading by renowned US poet Robert Grenier on the 20 October: just search for CPRC and join.

More specifically – and imminently – we are also involved in an outstanding annual collaboration with the Guildhall School of Music: VOICEWORKS. A small group of selected Birkbeck poets work closely with composing students and classically trained singers to write songs, which will be performed at the prestigious Wigmore Hall in May. This collaboration has been the beginning of ongoing projects, publications and commissions for many of those involved, and you can see how it works on our website: http://www.voiceworks.org.uk/ Voiceworks is now entering its tenth anniversary year.

To take part you will need to have Tuesday evenings 6-8 available for a number of weeks in the autumn term from  3 November when the early input is most structured (including workshops and seminars with staff), plus some timetabled meetings to share work in the Spring, but can increasingly pace your work to suit the needs of your project and your time  – the final song is performed in May. You need to be committed to exploring what collaborative work might bring.

If you’d like to be considered for this, we would need a portfolio of poems or prose poems/writings with a brief note about your interest – up to ten poems, no fewer than four – to be emailed to me on c.watts@bbk.ac.uk.

The final deadline for submissions is 22 October – but we’d like them as soon as possible… we’ll let you know quickly if you have a place for this year. The first meeting takes place at Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Silk St, near the Barbican, on Tuesday 3 November.

Voiceworks is an exceptional programme, and the opportunities leading from it have proved exciting for those collaborating. It is selective, so the number following the programme will be small, and comprised of doctoral students and a small group of MAs, no more than 8 poets in total. MAs can take the programme for credit as an option, or for pleasure.

Hope to see you at Poetics Centre events over the year – we will keep you posted.

 

Carol Watts

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