"Poetry and Race" Symposium

Friday, October 5, 2018
10am - 5pm, Wilson 142


Poetry has long been a crucial space for constructing and deconstructing racial identities. What can we learn about race from poetry, and poetry from race? How do national and transnational conversations about poetry and race intersect and diverge? Representing a variety of specializations, world-class speakers will compare insights into these and other questions.


10am - Noon - Panel 1
     Tsitsi Jaji
         “Where Is African Poetry?” 
     Nathan Suhr-Sytsma
         “ ‘The vision of Africa turning left’: Reading Contemporary African Poetry” 
     Josephine Park 
         “The Poetics of Consolation” 
Noon - 1:30pm - Lunch Break

1:30pm - 3:30pm - Panel 2
     Urayoán Noel
          “What They Don't Tell You About #Latinx Poetics”
     J. Edward Chamberlin
          “Chanting Down Babylon”
     Evie Shockley
          “Not Reading the Writing on the Wall”
4:00pm - 5:00pm - Lorna Goodison - "Poetry Reading and Reflections"


Tsitsi Jaji is an associate professor of English and African & African American Studies at Duke University. Her research has been supported by fellowships at the National Humanities Center, the Schomburg Center, and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, among others. She is the author of Africa in Stereo: Music, Modernism and Pan-African Solidarity; a poetry collection, Beating the Graves; and a chapbook, Carnaval. Her second full length book of poems, Mother Tongues, received the Cave Canem Northwestern University Book Prize, and will be published in 2019.

Nathan Suhr-Sytsma is Assistant Professor of English and a core faculty member of the Institute of African Studies at Emory University, where he specializes in the intersections of postcolonial literary studies with twentieth- and twenty-first-century poetry. He is the author of Poetry, Print, and the Making of Postcolonial Literature (Cambridge 2017). He served as co-convener of the 2016 African Literature Association conference, held in Atlanta. His most recent writing examines such topics as African literary prizes and the publication of contemporary African poetry.

Josephine Nock-Hee Park is Professor of English and Asian American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author Apparitions of Asia: Modernist Form and Asian American Poetics (Oxford 2008), which reads a modern history of American literary alliances with East Asia, and Cold War Friendships: Korea, Vietnam, and Asian American Literature (Oxford 2016), which examines Asian American subjectivities shaped by wartime alliances in Korea and Vietnam. She is the co-editor (with Paul Stasi) of Ezra Pound in the Present: Essays on Pound's Contemporaneity (Bloomsbury 2016). Her present research explores the poetics of war and incarceration via a particular focus on Issei and Nisei poetry during the Pacific War.

Urayoán Noel is Associate Professor of English and Spanish at New York University and also teaches at Stetson University’s MFA of the Americas. He is the author of In Visible Movement: Nuyorican Poetry from the Sixties to Slam (Iowa, 2014), which received the LASA Latino Studies Section Book Award and an Honorable Mention in the MLA Prize in United States Latina/o and Chicana/o Literary and Cultural Studies. His most recent books are Architecture of Dispersed Life (Shearsman, 2018), a bilingual edition of the Chilean poet Pablo de Rokha, and the poetry collection Buzzing Hemisphere/Rumor Hemisférico (Arizona, 2015).

J. Edward Chamberlin is University Professor Emeritus of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Toronto. His books include Come Back To Me My Language: Poetry and the West Indies; If This Is Your Land, Where Are Your Stories?Horse: How the Horse Has Shaped Civilizations; and The Banker and the Blackfoot: A Memoir of My Grandfather in Chinook Country. He is an Officer of the Order of Canada and lives with his wife, Lorna Goodison, in Halfmoon Bay, British Columbia.

Evie Shockley, Professor of English at Rutgers University-New Brunswick, is the author of Renegade Poetics: Black Aesthetics and Formal Innovation in African American Poetry (Iowa, 2011) and several collections of poetry, most recently the Pulitzer Prize-nominated semiautomatic (Wesleyan, 2017) and the new black (Wesleyan, 2011), winner of the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. In 2018-2019, Shockley is a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, where she is at work on a book-length narrative poem. Her current critical project is titled “Black Graphics: Slavery, Colorblindness, and Contemporary Black Aesthetics.”

Lorna Goodison is the Poet Laureate of Jamaica and a major figure in world literature. Her Collected Poems was published in 2017 by Carcanet (UK, distributed in the United States), and Redemption Ground: Essays and Adventure by Myriad Books (UK, 2018). She has also written From Harvey River: A Memoir of My Mother and Her People (2007), three collections of short stories, and ten books of poetry. Her many honors include the Commonwealth Poetry Prize, the Musgrave Gold Medal, and the 2018 Windham-Campbell Prize of Yale University. She is the Lemuel A. Johnson Professor Emerita of English and African and Afroamerican Studies at the University of Michigan.