Symposium Abstract

While the therapeutic function of autobiographical poetry is well-documented, the therapeutic potential of experimental poetic practice seems under-explored. This symposium will look at how therapy (in its broadest sense) might be represented, enacted and/or contested through experiments with language and form, from the perspective of both reader and writer. Questions raised will consider what the experimental poem can do that the talking cure can’t, and how we might conceptualise this as a mode of therapeutic work, or otherwise. Might there be a tension, for example, between the often impersonal lyric subject of experimental poetry and the wounded individual psyche of the psychoanalysand? In addition, what tactics could we deploy to keep the vulnerable self in view whilst thinking about the politics of avant-garde writing? Might the experimental poem’s disruption of conventional narrative be thought of as a mode of collective therapy, perhaps with connections to radical care? These are the kinds of questions we will be encountering, in what aims to be an open, collective conversation. 

For speakers, please see the Programme; the symposium will be followed by a Poetry Reading.

Please register for a free ticket here.

This one-day symposium is organised by Vicky Sparrow and is generously supported by the Wellcome Trust ISSF programme with Birkbeck’s School of Arts.