Dr Emma Wagstaff, University of Birmingham


Poetry is often treated as a genre set apart and hard to access, but recent poetic practice in French, in very diverse ways, demonstrates that poetry is inseparable from other genres of writing, and other arts, media and disciplines:

–        poets work with visual artists, photographers and musicians on collaborative productions;

–        poets are themselves performers, artists, musicians, filmmakers, philosophers, and translators;

–        developments in poetry have influenced philosophy and political thought, translation practices, film-making and other visual arts;

–        new technologies have changed the media in which poetry is created and distributed.

The project explored poetic practice from an interdisciplinary perspective. It found that creative activities based on text are frequently intertwined with other visual or audio media, and that practitioners are engaging with new technologies in innovative ways. Research undertaken for the workshops and publications is developing new methods and agendas that are applicable across the field of contemporary creative production.

An international network of academics and practitioners has been set up and is still growing following the end of the funded project. It includes established, early-career and doctoral researchers. Vital to the network are practitioners, both internationally-recognized writers and innovative young poets, artists and performers. The network and its activities are coordinated by Emma Wagstaff (University of Birmingham) and Nina Parish (University of Bath).

The network met for five themed workshops (and one additional co-organised workshop) to consider differences in approaches and work towards a future research agenda. The workshops were accompanied by open-access activities that showcased the work of practitioners and disseminated it to a wider audience:

–        workshop 1: Poetry, philosophy and politics at the Maison Française d’Oxford (April 2013). Alongside academic papers and discussion, the day included a poetry reading by Jean-Marie Gleize, and a poetry performance by Sabine Macher.

–        workshop 2: Poetry and translation, at the Centre International de poésie Marseille, France (September 2013, to coincide with Marseille European Capital of Culture). It was accompanied by a practical poetry translation workshop led by professional translators Stephen Romer and Jennie Feldman.

–        workshop 3: Poetry and new technologies at the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution (January 2014). We published texts by Alessandro De Francesco on the project website.

–        workshop 4: Poetry and the visual arts at Magdalene College, Cambridge (April 2014), accompanied by an exhibition of works produced by artists and writers in collaboration, or by artists working in response to texts.

–        workshop 5: Poetry, music and performance at the University of Birmingham (July 2014). Thierry Machuel composed a piece of music inspired by the poetry of Yves Bonnefoy and this was premiered at the University Bramall recital room, performed by Caroline Chassany, Jean-Luc Tamby and Emilie Yaouanq Tamby.

–        Co-organised workshop: ‘Les nouvelles écritures politiques : le poète dans la communauté (February 2015), co-organised with the Birkbeck Research Centre in Aesthetics of Kinship and Community.

The activities outlined above have led to a number of non-traditional ‘outputs’: in addition to the project website, which includes podcasts and abstracts of papers, as well as news of other events related to contemporary poetry and links to relevant sites, the translation workshop, exhibition and concert reached audiences beyond the academic community. Scholarly outputs include a special issue of the journal L’Esprit créateur, guest edited by Hugues Azérad and Michael G. Kelly and entitled La poésie à l’œuvre: poetry, philosophy, politics (2015), and an article co-written by Nina Parish and Emma Wagstaff on the book producer Pierre Lecuire (forthcoming in Word&Image). A further special issue is under consideration by a high-impact journal.

The organisers are planning future activities and funding applications in the field of poetry dissemination and reception, and are planning to work with researchers in other language areas.



Dr Emma Wagstaff

Project blog

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