European Association for Studies of Literature, Culture and the Environment

Flow and Fracture: International Poetry Seminar/Poetry Lab


International Poetry Seminar/Poetry Lab
Flow and Fracture from North America to Europe and Beyond:
Reflections, Refractions and Diffractions within the Ecopoetic Avant-Garde

(4-5 December 2014, Maison des Arts de l'Université Libre de Bruxelles)

Conveners: Franca Bellarsi (Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium)

Chad Weidner (UCR Utrecht University, Middelburg, The Netherlands)
Since the 1990s, ecocriticism has influenced the ways we study literature, but fractures remain. While there has been some preliminary ecocritical work on what can be called experimental ecopoetry and ecopoetics, so far the most radical writing forms remain insufficiently debated and researched.  In particular, what requires much more investigation is how radical experimental writing contributes to our understanding of the act of impure translation that all ecopoetic endeavour inevitably constitutes.  Conversely, what also demands much more reflection is how wild avant-garde writing can impact our scholarly practices too, especially, to quote poet Rich Murphy, with regard to the "bending and fracturing [of] the essay genre."  Last but not least, avant-garde ecopoetic procedures are rarely approached from a truly comparative, transnational, and nomadic angle. Not only does the dominance of US ecocriticism and US ecopoetic voices tend to drown those of radical ecopoetic experimentation originating elsewhere, be it within or outside the Anglophone world; in addition, cutting-edge ecopoetic experimentalism remains little examined as a transnational avant-garde phenomenon, whether in its own right, or with regard to its links to precursor or parallel avant-garde movements and aesthetics.

Open to both scholars and practising poets, this two-day international Poetry Lab will precisely be devoted to the waves of reflection, refraction, and diffraction occurring between contemporary hubs of experimental ecopoetry and ecopoetics.  British poet and anthologist Harriet Tarlo, Canadian eco-science poet and interdisciplinary scholar Mari-Lou Rowley, and US poet Jonathan Skinner, editor of the ecopoetics journal, are the three keynote speakers who, in both dialogue and counterpoint, will inspire the poetic travail of this two-day international seminar hosted by the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) and its Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, with the support of the Academic Core Department of UCR Utrecht University, Middelburg.

From L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E to radical landscape poetry, we welcome proposals investigating a variety of experimental practices across a variety of genre and media, from aleatory writing, guerrilla semiotics, found text, assemblage, oulipo procedures, recycles, and cut-up/fold-in to ASCII art, collaborative writing, concrete poetry, soundscapes, haptic texts, and digital verse.

Five main, complementary lines of flight will tentatively inspire and course through the Poetry Lab and its debates:

From the US to Continental Europe, from Britain to Canada and Australasia, what are the new developments in ecopoetic experimentalism?  Can we possibly talk about different “waves” of radical ecopoetics?  What kind of conscious yet effective acts of impure translation between the human and non-human do experimental ecopoetic procedures yield?  How do these re-invent the “text” of landscape, body, and mind?

What are the diffuse and irregular motions and patterns of acceptance, recycling, and transgression occurring from North America outwards in the direction of Europe and Australasia, and back from the latter two to North America?  To what extent is the community formed by wild avant-garde and radical ecopoetics truly a "transnational" phenomenon, or does it rather remain a bioregionally fractured one? What are the patterns of circulation and pollination, flow and fracture that occur from one creative hub to another, from one culture and language to another?  In other words, what do the experimental patterns and processes engaged in by radical ecopoets also tell us about cultural morphing?

What are the patterns of flow and fracture from past avant-garde moments in Europe and North America to the ecopoetic now?  To what extent does poetic experimentalism that does not define itself as ecopoetic nevertheless help to illuminate wild ecopoetic procedures?  What does ecopoetic experimentation owe to radical poetics outside the field, such as, for instance, the rhyzomatic and nomadic poetics of a writer like Pierre Joris, who sees poetic travail as "always on the move, always changing, morphing, moving through languages, cultures, terrains, times without stopping”?

What about the flow and fracture between eco-aesthetics and eco-ethics?  How good are experimental ecopoetic practices at negotiating the aesthetic freedom and artistic autonomy cherished by most avant-garde writing, on the one hand, and the need to effect a change of consciousness in readers/viewers, on the other?  How can radical ecopoetic experimentation break out of the specialist niche to which poetry and the avant-garde often tend to be relegated by market forces?

To what extent can radical ecopoetic experimentation possibly fracture, bend, and renew the conventions informing scholarly writing?  Are scholars condemned to merely comment on avant-garde ecopoetics, or can there also be refraction and diffraction from poetics to scholarly reflection and analysis?

We welcome proposals exploring any or several of the above.  The working language of the seminar will be English, but in keeping with the comparative approach that this seminar privileges, we highly encourage bringing poetic practices in other languages than English into the debate.

Please send 20-min-talk abstracts (up to 500 words) and a short bio to

Dr. Franca Bellarsi
Dept. of Languages and Literatures
Université Libre de Bruxelles


Deadline for submission of abstracts: 15 April 2014

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