Events & Conferences

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Past events & Conferences

Bagley Wright Lecture Series In Tucson, February 2018

Since 2013, the Bagley Wright Lecture Series has provided leading poets with the opportunity to explore in-depth their own thinking on the subject of poetry and poetics. For the first time, lecturers Dorothea Lasky, Joshua Beckman, Timothy Donnelly, Terrance Hayes, Rachel Zucker, Srikanth Reddy, and BWLS director Matthew Zapruder, will gathered to read from their lectures, reflect on this unique process, and talk about what comes next from February 22-24, 2018.

Panel: Poetry + Social Engagement with Terrance Hayes, Timothy Donnelly, Rachel Zucker, Matthew Zapruder 

At the end of “America,” Ginsberg writes, “America I’m putting my queer shoulder to the wheel.” In its address to the nation as a whole, this can be seen as a statement that simultaneously acknowledges collective responsibility while also firmly asserting the prerogatives of the individual imagination, without addressing potential tensions. Are these forces inherently in tension? How has your understanding of your own queer shoulder, and the queer shoulders of others, changed since you first started writing? How has that change affected your process, and the end result? 

Do you think every poet has an obligation to put their queer shoulder to the wheel? Do you think poets have obligations at all? What, if any, are the dangers and opportunities the subject matter of social engagement presents to poets in their work, and their lives?
In the areas of politics and social change, what can poetry do that other forms of writing, art, human activity, cannot? 

Panel: Poetry + Practice with Srikanth Reddy, Dorothea Lasky, Joshua Beckman 

The BWLS intentionally highlights poets in the heart of mid-career, to think and lecture about their drives, motivations, obsessions, and practices. At this point in your poetic life, what does “practice” mean to you with regard to poetry?  Is the art something you can get better at, over time, by practicing it?  Or does repeated practice of certain techniques make them feel routine or even dull in some ways?
Did writing (and delivering) your lectures for the series change your way of thinking about your own poetic practice?  

Panel: Poetry + Autobiography with Rachel Zucker, Joshua Beckman, Srikanth Reddy, Dorothea Lasky 

In what way did “autobiography”—either the revelation of your own autobiographical details or the consideration around autobiography as a formal consideration/force—enter into your lecture writing and giving, and how is that different from the way it functions in your poetry? Were you lectures more or less (or differently) “autobiographical” than your poems? To what extent and in what ways was the problem of “autobiography” a central part of your lectures? In responding to the invitation to write lectures about poetics, to what extent did you attempt to tell the audience/reader about how and why you became a poet, and is this “autobiography”? 

Panel: Poetry + Non-literary Influence with Terrance Hayes, Matthew Zapruder, Timothy Donnelly 

One of the interesting aspects of in-depth writing and lecturing about one’s own poetics is the revelation of otherwise undisclosed influences—those encounters and obsessions that are not often talked about, or are even unknown by those outside the poet’s familiar circle—which are therefore surprising, even to the most discerning reader. What are some of your influences outside the realm of the literary? How have these private imprints made their way into your work? 

Thinking Its Presence Conference 2017

From October 19-21, 2017, Thinking Its Presence brought together the discipline and art of pedagogy and the arts in general with perspectives from critical race theory, poetics, performance studies, literary theory, literary history, ethnic literatures, and Native American and Indigenous studies. The conference’s mission is to foster a dynamic exchange among creative writers, artists, performers, and scholars.The 2017 Thinking Its Presence Conference explored the concept of José Esteban Muñoz’ “ephemeral archive.”  

The Ephemeral Archive invited us to explore and reckon with the time and materiality of our ways of being and knowing, as writers, artists, educators and people in the world.  What is lost, found, recovered, carried, (de)fetishized, recorded, accreted, (de)authenticated, faced with deletion, elided, made mythic, performed, reenacted, residual, embodied, anecdotal and made evidence, where race, language, queerness and the creative arts intersect?  While such discussions on these topics and creative writing in the academy in general, and within MFA programs, are still few and far between, our 2017 conference expanded to include performing arts, film studies, visual arts, socially engaged arts, and other creative mediums and disciplines that haven’t yet had a robust forum for this conversation. The Ephemeral Archive is an open, porous space for serious engagement, experimentation and play, a way for us to explore not only what our work means but what it does, within the contexts of arts teaching and artistic practice, community-based activism collectives and collaborations, areas of study, documentation and more, inside, outside and alongside academia.

We were proud to showcase poet, scholar, distinguished professor in Latino and Latin American art, Roberto Tejada; Arab Canadian poet, activist, cultural critic, and university professor Trish Salah; Nuyorican poet, scholar, and performer Urayoán Noel, and celebrated poet, performer and librettist Douglas Kearney – performing with Haitian electronic music artist Val Jeanty – as our keynote speakers. 

The conference, founded in 2014, draws its name from Dorothy Wang’s book Thinking Its Presence: Form, Race, and Subjectivity in Contemporary Asian American Poetry (Stanford University Press, 2013). This award-winning book argues “that aesthetic forms are inseparable from social, political, and historical contexts when it comes to the writing and reception of poetry.” The title aptly captures our larger engagement with locating race in aesthetic discourses in an open forum for artists of all mediums, people of all races and genders.

Climate Change & Poetry

As part of the 2016-2017 Reading & Lecture Series, we invited eight contemporary poets to Tucson to talk with us about climate change and poetry. Aracelis GirmayBrenda HillmanBrian TeareCamille DungyJoy HarjoRobert Hass, Ross Gay, and Alison Hawthorne Deming presented “investigative readings”—part poetry reading, part talk. 

To all of the presenters, we asked the same pair of core questions: What role does poetry have in envisioning, articulating, and/or challenging, our ecological present? And what role does poetry have in anticipating our future, in imagining otherwise?

For a quick recap on this series, take a look back with this blog post and read interviews with climate scientists here

Spectacular Poetics

The UA Poetry Center featured Terrance Hayes, Kimiko Hahn, Khadijah Queen, and Adrian Matejka in a February 2016 series called “Spectacular Poetics, or the Poetry of Spectacle.” Each of these four world-class poets addressed overlaps, contradictions, and confluences between poetry & spectacle. These presentations, part reading and part craft talk, will take place at the Poetry Center as part of the 2015-2016 Reading & Lecture Series.