Poetics of Feminism

Speakers: Victoria Bazin, Northumbria University – Lorine Niedecker and the long poem.

Ian C Davidson, Northumbria University, – Diane di Prima’s Revolutionary Letters.

Melanie Waters, Northumbria University – Susan Howe and the archive.

In Spontaneous Particulars: The Telepathy of Archives (2014) Susan Howe observes that ‘the nature of archival research is in flux’ as ‘electronic technologies are radically transforming the way we read, write, and remember’. Through reference to the accidental magic that Howe associates with libraries and archives, we examine the implications of this changing research landscape for creative and critical practice, asking how feminist poetics might preserve the ‘affective charge’ that Howe identifies with the material archive.

The poet Lorine Niedecker referred to the ‘ terrors of the long poem’. What was terrifying about the long poem for Niedecker and what led to her overcoming that terror and writing a series of long poems in the late sixties that veered away from the textually condensed poems associated with Objectivism? The correspondence and poetic exchanges between Niedecker and the poet Basil Bunting sheds some light on this question but it also raises further questions concerning the possibilities and impossibilities of the long-form poem for women poets writing after modernism.

Growing up as an Italian American in 1950s New York, Diane di Prima single-handedly produced the living conditions within which it was possible to write, edit, think and bring up her children. Her Revolutionary Letters is a book length poem, initially distributed through the Liberation News Service, that reconfigures spatial and temporal relationships to construct a poetics of unpredictability and change.

Wednesday 5th July, 3.30