‘Race & Poetry & Poetics in the UK’ Research Group

Nisha RamayyaConference Room

Five years on from the formation of the ‘Race & Poetry & Poetics in the UK’ (RAPAPUK) research group, core members join together to outline what has been achieved in anti-racist poetry studies in the UK – and what we think still needs to happen.

As a whole, the research group has organised academic conferences and poetry readings in London and in Cambridge (see our website for more information: www.rapapuk.com). Within the group, members have also collaborated on smaller projects, such as a panel on ‘Race and Poetic Form’ at the Modernist Studies Association conference in Amsterdam, workshops at the National Poetry Library in London and the ‘Decolonial Transformations’ conference in Brighton, and a range of research trips, events, and publications.

Our interests span historical, political, literary, and aesthetic concerns, from questions about the legacies of colonialism, to resistance against borders in universities, to anti-racist and decolonial reading/writing/teaching practices. We propose a panel in which we discuss the following questions:

  • How does long-standing anti-racist work by BAME poetry practitioners, publishers, and event organizers reverberate – or not – in academic English studies?
  • How can we create a pedagogy of hospitality in our classrooms, and in our creative and critical practices? Can translation function as a new model for hospitable, decolonial reading? I.e. should the future of ‘English studies’ include translation theory and born-translated texts?
  • How do we understand the discord between imagining a borderless literary paradigm within the treacherous reality of borders for many academics and poets writing and thinking in English? What does it mean for the literary establishment to sever itself from the socio-historical context, and how this can affect the work of critique?
  • How to think about literary categories and the methods used to define them. For example, how tenable are categories such as 'British' poetry or 'Anglo-American' poetry in relation to 'English studies' or 'world literature’?
  • In the last decade, there have been more platforms for poets of colour in the UK, but what has changed in the academic fields of poetry, poetics, and English studies? How do we analyse the foundational categories of poetry and poetics in relation to the ongoing legacies of colonialism in supposedly ‘neutral’ ideas about poetics?
  • What are the ‘shared futures’ of our research group?

Our responses will take the form of short papers, poetry readings, and discussion amongst ourselves and the audience. We are keen to share our research, experiences, and ideas for the future, as well as to hear responses from the audience and to generate ideas collectively about what anti-racist and decolonial work we can do within our various academic and literary contexts.

Janani Ambikapathy, Doctoral Student (University of Cambridge)
Edmund Hardy, Independent Scholar
Nat Raha, Independent Scholar
Nisha Ramayya, Lecturer in Creative Writing (Queen Mary University of London)
Sophie Seita, Assistant Professor in English (Boston University)
Sam Solomon, Senior Lecturer in Creative and Critical Writing (University of Sussex)
Dorothy Wang, Professor of American Studies (Williams College)

Sun 2:30 pm - 3:45 pm