Poetry as both a form and genre has many possibilities to exist within; however, poetry oftentimes has the burden to have an argument and a set of imagery and meanings that are preconceived and placed within the poem. In this way, poetry often gets conflated with writing a thesis or project, and the poet simply the presenter of perfectly argued language. In addition, when poets attempt to bridge the gap between genres and write within the contemporary essay form, they are tasked to construct perfect arguments there as well and avoid the associative and aesthetic logic that makes poems important. The term essay itself was coined by Michel de Montaigne in the 1500s, and it comes from the French word, essai, which means to test or experiment with what one knows as a learning tool (and is in some opposition to the terms we use to discuss the essay now, such as thesis). The symposium will explore the possibilities inherent in this original conception of the essay, and ask poets to come together and discuss what a poet’s essay can do in 2018 and how poets themselves can resist the pressure to have theses or arguments in all forms of writing. The symposium will invite 10 esteemed speakers in total. All presenters will be asked to respond to the symposium topic and will generate original work as a result, which will be published in a publication format yet to be determined (most likely and hopefully, a book).
With generous funding of a Lenfest Junior Faculty grant