Poetry Symposium: The Critical Path

The annual 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 will include presentations by the following:

 

Kim Bridgford is the editor of Mezzo Cammin and the founder of The Mezzo Cammin Women Poets Timeline Project, launched at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in 2010. Formerly director of the West Chester University Poetry Center and the West Chester University Poetry Conference, she is the author of eight books of poetry, including Bully Pulpit and Doll.  She was the recipient of a Ucross fellowship.

 

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 is Associate Professor of English at SUNY Fredonia. Her essays on modernist poetry and poetics have appeared or are forthcoming in journals such as Thinking Verse, Style, and Paideuma. She has organized poetics seminars and workshops at the West Chester Poetry Conferences, the Modernist Studies Association, and the Conference on College Composition and Communication. She is currently at work on A Poet’s Field Guide to the English Language.

 

Elizabyth A. Hiscox is the author of Inventory from a One-Hour Room. She has edited several poetry magazines, and her own poems have been widely published. The recipient of grants from the Arizona Commission on the Arts and the Vermont Studio Center, she has served as Poet-in-Residence at Durham University (UK). She currently teaches creative writing at Western Colorado State University.

 

Emily Grosholz is Liberal Arts Research Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Penn State. She has served as Advisory Editor for the Hudson Review for thirty years, where she often publishes poems, essays and literary criticism. She is the author of seven books of poetry, three books of philosophy, seven edited volumes, and a translation of Yves Bonnefoy's Debut et fin de la neige.

 

David Mason's books include The Country I Remember, Arrivals, Ludlow (Winner of the Colorado Book Award), and the memoir, News from the Village. His work has appeared in such magazines as the New Yorker, Poetry, Hudson Review and the New York Times. He was appointed Poet Laureate of Colorado in 2010. His latest book of poems, Sea Salt: Poems of a Decade, 2004-2014, was published in 2014.

 

Jan Schreiber’s poetry books 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.

 

Marilyn L. Taylor, former Poet Laureate of Wisconsin (2009 and 2010), is the author of six poetry collections. Her award-winning poems and essays have ap­peared in many anthologies and journals, including Poetry, American Scholar, Measure, and Able Muse. She taught poetry and poetics at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and her column on poetic craft appeared for five years in The Writer magazine.

 

Frederick Turner 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 Genesis: An Epic Poem.

The Symposium is open to all students in Western's Graduate Program in Creative Writing, and to all registrants at Writing the Rockies.

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