A Practice-Based Exploration of Therapy & Experimental Poetry
While the therapeutic function of autobiographical poetry is well-documented, the therapeutic potential of experimental poetic practice is under-explored. This panel 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. The panel will comprise of three interlinked performance-lectures or practice-based papers which will raise questions around 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. In addition, the embodied nature of these performances will implicitly, and perhaps explicitly, consider what tactics could be deployed to keep the vulnerable and physical self in view whilst thinking about the politics of avant-garde writing. A central question will be: can the experimental poem’s disruption of conventional narrative be thought of as a mode of collective therapy, perhaps with connections to radical care? As a practice-based panel, we aim to encounter and open out topics without necessarily arguing for a single academic position. In essence, this panel aims to be a shared interpretation of the contemporary mental health crisis, read through the lens of the university and its framing of expressive arts.