Poetry Symposium: The Critical Path

The 7th Annual Poetry Symposium will meet Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday from 2:00 - 5:00 pm in Taylor Hall 201. It is open to all general registrants at Writing the Rockies.

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>>

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The 2016 Symposium includes presentations by the following:

Thomas Cable: "The Syntax of Similes in English"
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.


Paul EdwardsPaul Edwards: "The Musical Effect of Rhyme: The Value of Verse Drama in the Age of Information Overload"
Paul Edwards is chair of the Communication Arts, Languages and Literature Department and professor of Communication Arts at Western State Colorado University.  He has taught since 1980 and has acted in, directed, and written dozens of plays for a variety of theatre groups. Currently he is working with a colleague in the Art Department at Western on redefining aesthetics and broadening its application to human life. He has a permanent love affair with the Colorado Rockies (the region, not the baseball team).


Natalie GerberNatalie Gerber: "A Prosodist Looks Afield"​
Natalie Gerber is an Associate Professor at SUNY Fredonia. Her essays appear in Style, Paideuma, Thinking Verse, and the Wallace Stevens Journal, where she is an Associate Editor. She also serves on the executive boards for Poetry by the Sea and for the Wallace Stevens and Robert Frost societies. She has served as co-editor of special issues on cognitive literary studies, intonation, and poetics. Her current research interests focus on rhythm, Global Englishes, and so-called syllable versus stress timing.


Emily Grosholz: "Running against the Wind: How Poets Use Inertial Motion as a Poetic and Conceptual Figure"
Emily Grosholz is Liberal Arts Research Professor of Philosophy at the Pennsylvania State University. She has been an advisory editor for the Hudson Review for over thirty years.  Her seventh book of poetry, Childhood, with drawings by Parisian artist Lucy Vines, has been translated into Japanese. Her poems have recently appeared in the Hudson Review and in PN Review. Hudson Review has also published many of her Letters, including those from Rome, Denmark, Moscow, and St. Petersburg.


Robert Maranto
Robert Maranto: "How Education History Explains Why Public Schools Don't Teach Poetry"

Robert Maranto is the 21st Century Chair in Leadership at the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas, and previously taught political science at Villanova University and worked at the Brookings Institution and for the Clinton administration in the 1990s. He is interested in civil service reform generally and school reform in particular. Since December 2015 he has edited theJournal of School Choice (http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/wjsc20/current), having prior served as book review editor. In concert with others Bob has written or edited 11 scholarly books which have sold dozens of copies and are so boring that his own mother refused to read them. These include President Obama and Education Reform: The Personal and the Political (Palgrave/Macmillan, 2012), The Obama Presidency: Change and Continuity (Routledge, 2011), A Guide to Charter Schools (Rowman & Littlefield Education, 2006), Beyond a Government of Strangers (Lexington, 2005), and School Choice in the Real World: Lessons from Arizona Charter Schools (Westview 2001). He recently co-edited two books appealing to very different audiences:The Politically Correct University (published by conservative AEI), and Judging Bush (published by liberal Stanford University Press). He is now working on a book on education policy in the Obama years and beyond, and another on Arizona charter schools. His more than 70 scholarly publications have appeared in journals including Public Administration Review, Computers and Education, the Journal of School Leadership,Social Science Quarterly, the Journal of Educational Research, and Education Next. His more than 100 op-eds have appeared in venues including the Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, Houston Chronicle, Atlanta Journal Constitution, Philadelphia Inquirer, and Baltimore Sun. In 1987 Bob played for the University of Minnesota’s National Champion College Bowl team. In his non-existent free time Bob hikes in the mountains. He is married to April Gresham Maranto. Their bosses, Tony and Maya, were born in 1999 and 2004 respectively, and attend Root Elementary and Woodland Junior High in Fayetteville.


Christopher Norris
Christopher Norris: "Thinking Poetry: A Verse-Lecture"

Christopher Norris completed his PhD in English at University College London in 1975. After an early career in literary and music criticism (during the late 1970s, he wrote for the now-defunct magazine Records and Recording), Norris moved in 1991 to the Cardiff Philosophy Department. In 1997, he was awarded the title of Distinguished Research Professor in the Cardiff School of English, Communication & Philosophy. He has also held fellowships and visiting appointments at a number of institutions, including the University of California, Berkeley, the City University of New York, Aarhus University, and Dartmouth College. He is one of the world's leading scholars on deconstruction and the work of Jacques Derrida. He has written numerous books and papers on literary theory, continental philosophy, philosophy of music, philosophy of language and philosophy of science. He has recently turned to poetry -- more specifically, the verse-essay -- as a medium for discussing ideas and reflecting on various literary and philosophical themes. Some of his recent work has appeared in the journal THINK, which is published by Western's Graduate Program in Creative Writing.

Jan SchreiberJan Schreiber: "But Enough about Me: Poems without Personas"
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 WSCU, he teaches in the Osher Institute at Brandeis University. His critical book Sparring with the Sun was published in 2013, and his latest book of poems, Peccadilloes, appeared in 2014.


Frederick TurnerFrederick Turner: "Adulterating the Dialect of the Tribe: Goethe's Expanded Poetic Vocabulary"
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 ScienceShakespeare and the Nature of Time, Paradise (poetry) and Genesis: An Epic Poem.


Richard WakefieldRichard Wakefield: "The End of the Line"​
Richard Wakefield has taught for many years at the University of Washington and at Tacoma Community College.  As a contributing critic to the Seattle Times he has written articles, reviews, and essays on current fiction, poetry, and biography. He is the author of Robert Frost and the Opposing Lights of the Hour and of a poetry collection, East of Early Winters, which received the Richard Wilbur Award.  His second collection, A Vertical Mile (Able Muse Press), was short-listed for the Poets Award.


Symposium Presentation Schedule

Thursday, July 21

2:00 / Thomas Cable, "The Syntax of Similes in English"

3:00 / Paul Edwards, "The Musical Effect of Rhyme: The Value of Verse Drama in the Age of Information Overload"

4:00 / Emily Grosholz, "Running against the Wind: How Poets Use Inertial Motion as a Poetic and Conceptual Figure"

Friday, July 22

No Meetings - The Freedom of the Hills

Saturday, July 23

2:00 / Natalie Gerber, "A Prosodist Looks Afield"

3:00 / Jan Schreiber, "But Enough about Me: Poems without Personas"

4:00 / Christopher Norris, "Thinking Poetry: A Verse-Lecture"

Sunday, July 24

2:00 / Frederick Turner, "Adulterating the Dialect of the Tribe: Goethe's Expanded Poetic Vocabulary"

3:00 / Richard Wakefield, "The End of the Line"

4:00 / Robert Maranto, "How Education History Explains Why Public Schools Don't Teach Poetry"

Please go here to see the full conference schedule.

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