Poets, Critics, and Readers Come Together for "Rereading Poets Reading," April 15-16

March 29, 2010

Why don’t poets, critics, and readers meet face-to-face more often? Why are there poetry readings apart from critical lectures about poetry?

REREADING POETS READING is a two-day conference in Tawes Hall bringing together poets, critics, and readers of all levels to interrogate and celebrate reading in the twenty-first century through a variety of interactive seminars, critical presentations, creative writing workshops, and poetry readings. 

The idea for the conference germinated when poet Joe Donahue  and Professor of English Martha Nell Smith took a "Thistledown Flight" from Baronness Elsa to Djuna Barnes, Papers of Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, Special Collections, University of Maryland Librarieslong walk. Smith had recently attended conference of poets and critics at the University of Houston in Fall 2008 and shared the experience with Donahue.  "I told Joe about standing in The Rothko Chapel surrounded by amazing canvases of the abstract expressionist, listening to poets reading after I had given a talk on 'Dickinson's Confederate Relations,'" says Smith. "Rarely had I enjoyed such a dynamically meditative environment where poets and critics were talking to one another and with their audiences in such depth and at such length.  As we walked along Sligo Creek Trail, we found ourselves giddy with excitement about poets and critics brought together at a conference, about intertwining our work, about facilitating conversations across creative and critical divides." 

Smith and Donahue soon began to imagine the conference that will finally come to fruition on April 15 and 16, 2010, with participation from Rachel Blau DuPlessis, Alicia Ostriker, Lara Vetter, Janlori Goldman, and more.  The conference is sponsored by the Transatlantic Studies Group and Modernist Reading Group, in conjunction with the Department of English and the Center for Literary and Comparative Studies quickly followed, as the theme fits well with the Center's 2009-2010 theme of "Reading: Histories, Practices, Futures."

Public engagement will be a major emphasis of the conference. "We want to involve students, professors, staff, and citizens of Maryland because "poetry," we know, "is not a luxury," but a "vital necessity of our existence,'" says Smith, quoting Audre Lorde. "Poets repeatedly and exquisitely give back to us our language, which through the propaganda  of politics, advertising, and so forth, is always in danger of being taken away. Please join us for two days of reflecting upon, celebrating, reveling in poetry and its critical appreciations."

Download the conference poster here.

Click here for more information about the poetry workshops.