feature: essay

Poetry and Cultures of Feedback

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Gestures: Writing That Moves Between (Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester)

As part of the two-day conference Gestures: Writing That Moves Between to be held at the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester over Friday 15 and Saturday 16 February 2019, I will present a talk incorporating a collaborative reading collectively called 'Poetry and Cultures of Feedback'.

Organised by Alice Butler, Nell Osborne, Hilary White (all University of Manchester) and Dr Alicia J Rouverol (University of Sheffield), Gestures is a conference aimed at writers and artists as well as scholars. It takes the cross-disciplinary movement in writing as its focus, and explores the role of gesture - a term more usually associated with Art History and Performance Studies - within it. Keynote speakers are Renee Gladman and Maria Fusco.

My contribution is part of the Collaborations panel, chaired by Nell Osborne and presenting in the Grand Hall of the Whitworth Art Gallery on the afternoon of Friday 15 February, which additionally includes presentations by Emma Bolland & Helen Clarke, and Holly Pester & Emma Bennett. About my presentation, from the conference literature:

My book-length poem this is no longer entertainment (Dostoyevsky Wannabe, March 2019) is formed entirely out of untreated anonymous or pseudonymous writing from the open comments sections of media websites and other digital platforms. The making of this poem over a four-year period marked by a range of socio-political shifts and events (2014-17) relied on a correspondence between an improvisational writing process (each of its 71 sections were composed in one 'take') comprising instinctive text selection and reassembly, and an ordered structure involving the sourcing of material from my everyday digital reading. Driving it was the concept of 'reading as a creative act', and an exploration of the effect of digital gestures on offline, 'real' behaviour. I will deliver fragments from an accompanying essay that frames this is no longer entertainment within a tradition of poetry resistant to perceptions of it as consumable in units of achievement and places it in parallel to experimental documentary filmmaking in its employment of strategies of détournement. These essay fragments will be punctuated by polyphonic excerpts from this is no longer entertainment with the solicited participation of the conference attendees as a device implicating the audience in this mass collaboration documentary poem.

See the original call for papers and the extraordinary full conference programme.

Gestures is co-sponsored by The Centre for New Writing and Art History and Visual Studies, University of Manchester, in partnership with University of Liverpool’s Centre for New and International Writing, and the University of Salford’s English Literature, Language and Creative Practice Research Group.

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