Poetry: Poetry as Privacy/Poetry as Exile

(Conveners:  Joseph Donahue, Nathaniel Mackey, Priscilla Wald)  This year’s theme will focus on poetry as privacy / poetry as exile in an effort to re-think the ways in which we focus how poetry might offer an alternative receptacle to public domain(s). How and why do we retreat into the enclaves of poetry? What space may poetry provide for sustaining the tender frames of human privacy? In our particular shared moment of shifting publics—social media forum, Internet identities, public political activism, the discussion of safe spaces and/or public space as restricted access—we would like to draw attention to the ways in which poetry conceals, occludes, and retreats from public(s) in an effort to maintain, emphasize, or challenge the boundaries of self-imposed privacy and/or exile. What of blank / black space and the margin in poetry? What might be uttered in the unsaid? What of secrecy and the sacred, of the uncovered and the occult in poetry? These are only some of the questions with which we will explore contemporary poetry’s relationship to public modes of being, while remaining sharply attuned to a resonant whisper of privacy, its identities, and what forms of exile might lend to poetry’s worlds at this moment in history.