The current crisis makes it possible to think what couldn’t be thought before. With its echoes of previous crises of modern society, it places on the agenda a reappraisal of revolutionary art from the point of view of the necessities of the present. Poetry has always had a vital relationship with revolution, notably in the 17th and 18th century bourgeois revolutions (Milton, Blake, Shelley, Victor Hugo are some of the obvious names, as well as popular radicals of the 17c and later) and in revolutionary movements of the 19th and 20th century (Rimbaud, Khlebnikov, Maiakovski, Brecht, Tzara, Vallejo, Neruda, Baraka, to name just a few). In fact, the names indicate that revolutionary movements have shaped the mainstream of poetry. Conversely poets have articulated the truth enunciated by revolution with a force not to be found anywhere else. It is also true that revolutionary thought, such as Marx’s, cannot be properly understood without giving attention to its poetics.
May 26-27 (2012) sees Birkbeck College London hosting a conference entitled Poetry & Revolution dedicated to exploring how poetry and revolution historically have been intertwined and in current practice are vital to each other.
Keynote talks: Mark Nowak, Joan Retallack
Readings and performances: Joan Retallack, Sean Bonney, Andrea Brady, Ulli Freer, Keston Sutherland, Marianne Morris
For more information, contact Julia Eisner.