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>>
The 2015 Symposium includes presentations by the following:
Jan Schreiber: "The Elusive Self: Poems and Personas." Jan Schreiber's volumes of poetry include Digressions, Wily Apparitions, Bell Buoys, and two books of translations. His criticism has appeared frequently in Contemporary Poetry Review and other journals. A co-founder of Canto magazine and of the Symposium on Poetry Criticism at Western, he is a visiting scholar at Brandeis University. His critical book Sparring with the Sun was published in 2013, and his latest book of poems, Peccadilloes, appeared in 2014.
Symposium Presentation Schedule
Thursday, July 23
2:00 / Emily Grosholz, “The Painterly Poems of Ruth Fainlight”
3:00 / Kim Bridgford, “Making Room: The Poems of Marilyn Nelson”
4:00 / David Mason, “The Poetry of Kevin Hart”
Friday, July 24
2:00 / Jan Schreiber, “The Elusive Self: Poems and Personas”
3:00 / Elizabyth A. Hiscox, “Erasure and Ekphrasis: Fastening to the Already-Fashioned”
4:00 / Frederick Turner, "Narrative Time: 'What shall I say first? What keep until the end?'"
Saturday, July 25
2:00 / Natalie Gerber, “Modern Verse and the Structure of Intonation"
3:00 / Thomas Cable, “The Verbal Music of English Poetry”
4:00 / Marilyn L. Taylor, “What’s So Funny?: The Crafty Doggerel of Ogden Nash”
Please go here to see the full conference schedule.