Poetry Symposium: The Critical Path
The Symposium on Poetry Criticism was co-founded by David J. Rothman and Jan Schreiber in 2010 to address a growing sense that critical writing — reviews as well as more global discussions of the state of contemporary literature — has lost its way. Aware that many writers and critics wished to shine a light on an activity most essential to a strong poetic culture, to make it less routine and more conscious and probing, Schreiber and Rothman initiated a gathering of some of the foremost poet-critics now active to discuss problems, objectives, and associated artistic and technical issues.
The organizers’ long-term goal is to produce regular book-length collections of essays on criticism as Western's graduate program and the Symposium grow. In the introduction for the papers from the first Symposium in Contemporary Poetry Review, Schreiber and Rothman wrote: “The very purpose of criticism has become murky: most reviews of poetry today offer blandly positive comments or, more rarely but just as annoyingly, knee-jerk negativity, without quoting enough of the verse at hand or producing enough evidence based on close textual reading to let the reader see what is being recommended or dismissed. If the poems have a discernible form, reviewers either ignore it, disparage it, or treat it as an obstacle the poet has heroically overcome. Most academic criticism — the kind published in quarterly journals — focuses on writers already accorded high standing and endeavors to further justify that standing. Certainly there are exceptions, as readers of this publication are aware. But even the best working critics — perhaps especially the best — have long perceived a need to articulate and reconsider the principles on which we operate.” Read the entire introduction>>
Since 2015, papers from the Symposium have appeared regularly in THINK, the internationally distributed journal of poetry and criticism published by the Poetry Concentration in the Graduate Program in Creative Writing at Western.
The 2017 Symposium includes presentations by the following:
Thomas Cable, Prosody Roundtable Co-Director
Thomas Cable* has devoted a lifetime to the study of the English language and its prosodic development in poetry. Now emeritus professor of English at the University of Texas at Austin, he has also taught in France and at the University of Illinois. Among his books are A History of the English Language (with Albert C. Baugh) and The English Alliterative Tradition. His interests range from the metrics of Old English verse to the treatment of meter by today’s New Formalists.
Natalie Gerber, Prosody Roundtable Co-Director: "'Rhyme in the Movement': The Prosody of Hamilton"
Natalie Gerber* is President-Elect of the Robert Frost Society and Secretary-Treasurer of the Wallace Stevens Society. Since earning her PhD in English at UC Berkeley, she has used insights from linguistics to address longstanding conundrums in modernist verse prosody, such as the underlying structure of Wallace Stevens’ late blank-verse line. More recently, she has explored how issues of speech prosody factor into verse prosody, for example, how shifts in the rhythms of Global English speakers may be affecting the nature of rhyme in contemporary poetry and hiphop. Her recent publications include co-edited special issues for Thinking Verse (with David Nowell Smith, Intonation) and for The Wallace Stevens Journal (with Nicholas Myklebust, Stevens and the Cognitive Turn in Literary Studies; with Steven Gould Axelrod, Stevens and Frost). Her essays are also forthcoming in the edited collections On Rhyme (Presses Universitaires de Liège, 2017) and in The History of the English Language: Pedagogical Practices for College and University Classrooms (Oxford, 2017). Current projects include Prosody: Histories, a colloquy for Stanford University’s Arcades project, co-curated with Eric Weiskott. She teaches at the State University of New York at Fredonia, where she is an associate professor of English.
Emily Grosholz: "Cosmology as the Middle Term between Poetry and Philosophy"
Emily Grosholz** is a poet who teaches philosophy and poetry at Pennsylvania State University, and has been an advisory editor for the Hudson Review for over thirty years. The Stars of Earth: New and Selected Poems will be published in 2017 by Word Galaxy / Able Muse Press, with drawings by Farhad Ostovani. Her most recent book of poetry, Childhood, published by Accents Publishing with drawings by Parisian artist Lucy Vines, has raised over $2500 in the past year for UNICEF from sales of the book. A Japanese translation by Atsuko Hayakawa (Tsuda College) with illustrations by Chihiro Iwasaki was published in 2015, and an Italian translation by Sara Amadori (University of Bologna / Forli) was published in 2016, along with a CD Childhood Songs by composer Mirco De Stefani. A French translation by Pascale Drouet (University of Poitier) is underway. During the past year, her poems have appeared in the San Diego Reader, the Hudson Review, PN Review and Think Journal, including two elegies for Maxine Kumin, and poems about the Gunnison Valley Observatory, Escondido, Rome, and the ferryboat from Helsinki to Tallinn. Her new philosophy book Starry Reckoning: Reference and Analysis in Mathematics and Cosmology is just out from Springer. Next year, Springer will publish her book on poetry and mathematics, Great Circles: The Transits of Mathematics and Poetry. Her translation of the late Yves Bonnefoy's essay "Yeats' Poetics" is featured the Autumn 2016 issue of the Hudson Review, and will be included in a Carcanet edition of the poet's works due out next year.
William Tyson Hausdoerffer*** graduated from Western, Summa Cum Laude, in English, with a Minor in French, in 1992. He holds an MA in Classics from the University of Colorado and a PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of California at Berkeley. He has more than a decade of college teaching experience, including teaching in a number of departments at Western. He has translated Homer, has a number of article publications and has given scholarly talks at major venues. His languages include French, Greek and Latin.
Julie Kane holds a BA from Cornell University, an MA from Boston University, and a PhD from Louisiana State University, where her dissertation on the villanelle won the Lewis P. Simpson Dissertation Award. Her poetry books include Rhythm & Booze (2003), a National Poetry Series winner; Jazz Funeral (2009), winner of the Donald Justice Poetry Prize; and Paper Bullets (2014), a collection of light verse. The Vietnam memoir that she co-authored with Kiem Do (Counterpart, 1998) became a History Book Club Featured Alternate. Julie’s poems and translations appear in over fifty anthologies including Penguin’s Poetry: A Pocket Anthology, Norton’s Seagull Reader, and Best American Poetry 2016. She has collaborated with composer Dale Trumbore on the one-act opera Starship Paradise, premiered by Center City Opera Theater of Philadelphia, and with composer Kenneth Olson on City of Lights for orchestra and soprano, premiered by the Natchitoches-Northwestern Symphony. Composer Libby Larsen’s settings of Julie’s poems have been recorded on CDs by The American Boychoir and by mezzo-soprano Susanne Mentzer. Julie’s scholarly essays have been published in Twentieth Century Literature, Literature/Film Quarterly, Modern Language Quarterly, the Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, and other journals and edited collections. The 2011-2013 Louisiana Poet Laureate, she is a Professor Emeritus of English and recipient of the Excellence in Teaching Award at Northwestern State University of Louisiana.
Alice Quinn is executive director of the Poetry Society of America, where she oversees an award-winning Chapbook Fellowship Contest and more than forty programs annually nationwide. She received a BA from Manhattanville College as well as an Honorary Doctorate in 2007. She also attended New York University for graduate study in English Literature. She is the editor of Edgar Allan Poe & The Juke-Box: Uncollected Poems, Drafts, and Fragments by Elizabeth Bishop (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006), and she is currently working on an edition of Elizabeth Bishop’s journals and notebooks. From 1987 to 2007 she was poetry editor of the New Yorker, where for many years she was also a senior editor in the fiction department and an editor of memoirs, profiles, book reviews, and a variety of critics’ pieces, working with, among others, Alice Munro, Lorrie Moore, Rick Moody, Andrea Lee, Julie Hecht, Muriel Spark, Robert Stone, Joan Acocella, Anthony Lane, and Jamaica Kincaid. Prior to that, she worked at Alfred A. Knopf (1972-1986), publishing fiction, biographies, works of cultural history, and books on American folk art while editing the Knopf Poetry Series, which included Amy Clampitt, Edward Hirsch, Sharon Olds, and Marie Ponsot. She has lectured on poetry and given talks on publishing at many colleges and cultural institutions. Her articles on and interviews with poets and artists have appeared in Artforum, The Forward, Poetry Ireland, the Canadian National Post, the New Yorker, and the New Yorker Online.
David J. Rothman, a co-founder of the Symposium on Poetry Criticism, is Director of Writing the Rockies, editor of THINK, Western's journal of poetry and criticism, and also serves as the Director of Western’s Graduate Program in Creative Writing. His most recent volumes of poetry, both of which appeared in 2013, are The Book of Catapults (White Violet Press) and Part of the Darkness (Entasis Press). A book of essays about mountains and mountain towns, Living the Life (Conundrum Press), also appeared in 2013. With Jeffrey Villines, he is co-editing a volume forthcoming from Pleiades Press on the great Colorado poet Belle Turnbull. His poems, essays, and scholarly work have appeared widely in journals, including Appalachia, Atlantic Monthly, Gettysburg Review, Hudson Review, Kenyon Review, The New Criterion, Poetry, Sewanee Review, Threepenny Review and scores of other newspapers, journals and periodicals. He co-founded the Crested Butte Music Festival, was the founding publisher and editor of Conundrum Press (now owned by the Samizdat Group of Denver), and currently serves as Poet-in-Residence of Colorado Public Radio. He has served as Executive Director, President, and a Board Member of the Robinson Jeffers Association, and currently serves on the board of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP). He lives in Crested Butte, Colorado.
Jan Schreiber: "Serpent in the Tree: Poetry in a Fallen World"
Jan Schreiber is a poet and critic whose work has gained a wide audience with the publication of his recent book Sparring with the Sun (Antilever Press), a collection of essays on twentieth-century poets and theories of poetry. He began his career as an editor at the University of Toronto Press while obtaining an MA at the University of Toronto. Later, with a PhD from Brandeis University, he worked at the Godine Press, where he established the Poetry Chapbook Series, and was a founding editor of Canto: Review of the Arts. A cycle of his poems, Zeno’s Arrow, was set to music by Paul Alan Levi in 2001. He is a visiting scholar at Brandeis University and a study group leader at the university’s Osher Institute, with a special interest in Elizabethan and modern verse. His poems have appeared in many journals in Canada, England, and the United States as well as both print and on-line anthologies. His criticism has been published in Modern Occasions, the Southern Review, Hellas, Literary Imagination, and other journals. Previous books of poetry include Digressions, Wily Apparitions, Bell Buoys, and two books of translations: A Stroke upon the Sea and Sketch of a Serpent. His newest collection is Peccadilloes (2014). A co-founder of the Symposium on Poetry Criticism at Writing the Rockies, he is Currently Poet Laureate of Brookline, Massachusetts
Marilyn L. Taylor holds an MA in linguistics and a PhD in creative writing from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. A former Poet Laureate of Wisconsin and of the city of Milwaukee, she is the author of eight collections of poetry, most recently Step on a Crack (Kelsay Books, 2016). Her poems and essays have appeared in many anthologies and journals, including Poetry, Able Muse, Measure, Light, Rhino, Aesthetica, Mezzo Cammin, and the Random House anthology Villanelles. She has won a number of national and international poetry contests, among them the 2015 Margaret Reid Award for verse in forms. Her widely-read “Poet to Poet” column on craft appeared bi-monthly for five years in The Writer magazine. A long-time resident of Milwaukee, she now lives in Madison, Wisconsin, where she facilitates independent poetry workshops, readings, and presentations locally, statewide, and elsewhere, including programs sponsored by Lawrence University’s Bjorklunden Seminar Center (Baileys Harbor, Wisconsin), Poetry by the Sea (Madison, Connecticut), West Chester University (Pennsylvania), Road Scholar, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Division of Continuing Studies. She currently serves as a Contributing Editor for the poetry journals Third Wednesday and Verse-Virtual.
Frederick Turner: "On Beauty: Evolution, Chaos, and the Anima Mundi"
Frederick Turner was born in Northamptonshire, England, in 1943. After spending several years in central Africa, he was educated at the University of Oxford (1962-67), where he obtained the degrees of BA, MA, and BLitt (a terminal degree equivalent to the PhD) in English Language and Literature. Naturalized as a U.S. citizen in 1977, he is Founders Professor of Arts and Humanities at the University of Texas at Dallas. He has held academic positions at the University of California at Santa Barbara, Kenyon College (where he was editor of the Kenyon Review), and the University of Exeter in England. Among his many books are Natural Classicism: Essays on Literature and Science, Shakespeare and the Nature of Time, Paradise (poetry), and two verse epics: Genesis and Apocalypse. His work has been translated and published in Albanian, French, German, Japanese, Hungarian, Italian, Macedonian, Rumanian, Russian, Spanish, Turkish, Vietnamese, and other languages. He has lectured or given poetry readings at over two hundred institutions in the U.S., Canada, and Western and Eastern Europe.
*Thomas Cable and Natalie Gerber are leading the "Prosody Seminar," a three-day critical seminar scheduled so as not to conflict with the Symposium.
**Emily Grosholz will chair a panel discussion on Poetry and Philosophy, scheduled so as not to conflict with the Symposium.
***Tyson Hausdoerffer will chair a panel discussion on translating the classics, scheduled so as not to conflict with the Symposium.
2017 Symposium Presentation Schedule
Thursday, July 20
2:00 / Julie Kane, "Words for Tunes: How the Italian Musical Villanella Changed the English Metrical Line"
3:00 / Alice Quinn, "The Thrill of an Archive: An Editor's Perspective on the Elizabeth Bishop Papers at Vassar College"
4:00 / Jan Schreiber, "Serpent in the Tree: Poetry in a Fallen World"
Friday, July 21
No Meetings - The Freedom of the Hills
Saturday, July 22
2:00 / William Tyson Hausdoerffer, "Homer's 'Precious Stones': Culling as Creative Translation"
3:00 / Emily Grosholz, "Cosmology as the Middle Term between Poetry and Philosophy"
4:00 / Frederick Turner: "On Beauty: Evolution, Chaos, and the Anima Mundi"
Sunday, July 23
2:00 / David J. Rothman, "Harmonious Madness"
3:00 / Marilyn Taylor, "The Golden Shovel and the Lipogram: Two Groundbreaking Spinoffs in Contemporary Formal Poetry"
4:00 / Natalie Gerber, "'Rhyme in the Movement': The Prosody of Hamilton"
Please go here to see the full conference schedule. [Coming soon.]