Poetry’s Public: An International Seminar

Press release from Centre for Contemporary Poetry, 1st Nov. 2012

On 30th October, 2012, more than 100 faculty, students, and members of the public – from across five locations in Canada and Great Britain – came together to discuss the rhetoric, politics, and ethics of “Poetry’s Public”: An International Seminar for the Centre for Contemporary Poetry.


rganised by Dr John Wrighton, Lecturer in English Literature, Faculty of Arts (University of Brighton) and International Research Fellow at the Modern Literature and Culture Research Centre (Ryerson University, Toronto), this special event featured Ryerson University, Assistant Professor of English,Dale Smith, Toronto poet, Hoa Nguyen, and Canada’s fifth parliamentary Poet Laureate, Fred Wah.

Provocatively titled “Poetry’s Public,” the event marked the first International Seminar run by the Centre for Contemporary Poetry (informally known as “ContemPo”) which is a cross-institutional, collaborative research centre. Founded in 2006, ContemPo aims to develop knowledge about contemporary poetic practices, about the interface between the word and the visual, and to examine differences in practice between the experimental and traditional poetic forms. “Poetry’s Public” took place in downtown Toronto at Ryerson University’s Department of English and was simulcast via a live trans-Atlantic video-link with four UK Higher Education institutions: Aberystwyth University and Bangor University in Wales, Northumbria University and University of Brighton in England. By-passing the cross-winds of Hurricane Sandy, participants were able to join in the lively discussion and debate and to present questions from across each of the locations.

“Poetry’s Public” emerged a contested, plural, multi-valent, and trans-modal idea, in an event that both pushed the limits of its possible construction (in a present moment, across multiple time-zones and geographic regions) whilst thinking-through to expand its semantic and social capacity. From the local, to the national, and the global – from the word, to the lyric, and its form; from the personal, to the collective, and the corporate; in counter-politics, ethical wagers, and in rhetorical diplomacies – “Poetry’s Public” offered a profoundly invigorating intellectual debate in cross-synergy with three inspiring poetic performances.

Click on image to open gallery.