Poetry, Representation and the Archive: 25th May 2023, University of East Anglia

‘Towards a Centre for Contemporary Poetry in the Archive’ is a pilot project funded by the Mellon Foundation at the British Archive for Contemporary Writing (BACW) at UEA between 2022 and 2023. The proposed Centre will have at its heart a pioneering collection of underrepresented poetries. Our approach to understanding and defining underrepresentation aims to be alert to cross-cutting forms of discrimination in British and Irish literary culture relating to class, gender and ability. We also aspire to critically value and promote innovative formal approaches to contemporary poetic composition – such as the conceptual, the visual, the performed and the digital – as well as the poetic use of dialects and creoles spoken by communities which have been historically marginalised in the UK and Ireland. The ultimate aim of the project is to develop interdisciplinary and creative-critical learning between poets, researchers and archivists, and to share this learning with the wider professional communities of contemporary poetry and archives and special collections. The project team is Justine Mann (BACW Archivist), Jeremy Noel-Tod (BACW Academic Director) and Will Harris (Visiting Poetry Fellow), and the poets taking part in the pilot project are: Jay Bernard, Anthony Vahni Capildeo, Gail McConnell and Joelle Taylor.

Our one-day conference at the University of East Anglia, ‘Poetry, Representation and the Archive’, brought together researchers in these areas to discuss the kinds of question such a project raises.


Panel A: Working Class Lives in the Poetry Archive [chair: Jeremy Noel-Tod]

Jake Morris-Campbell, “Marratide: the William Martin Collection and Conversive
Carl Kears, “Fire, Water and the Archives of Bill Griffiths: the Remaking of Old and 
New Poetries’”
Sam Ladkin and Luke Roberts, “Learning to Read: Mark Hyatt”

Panel B: Postcolonial Lives in the Poetry Archive [chair: Will Harris]

Mantra Mukim, “‘Wounds of Meaning’: Muktibodh, Hindi Modernism, and the 
Archive of Difficulty”
Sarala Estruch, “Re-Visiting and Re-Creating the Past for the Future: Decolonising 
the Archive in Bhanu Kapil’s Humanimal: A Project for Future Children and in The 
House of My Ancestors, a work-in-progress” 

Lauryn Anderson, “‘I go in quest of my inheri-/tance’: Tracing Susan Howe’s 
‘sordidly spectacular’ Ancestors in the Archive”


11:45-13:00 - Session 2 

Panel A: The Living Poetry Archive [chair: Justine Mann]
Rachel Hawkes, “The Living Archive”
Jon Stone, “Frayed Ends: Keeping Digital Poetry Alive”
Will May, “Saying It, Writing It: The Group, The Archive and Persistent Myth”

Panel B: Living with the Archive [chair: Georgina Colby]
Cecily Fasham, “‘Don’t ever sell your archive’: Bernadette Mayer’s Public Property”
Jade French, “Ageing and the Archive in H.D.’s Mid-Century Writing”
Shalini Sengupta, “‘Our Revolutionary Linguistic Radical Women Poets are 
Bulldozed into the Sewers’: Feminism and Poetry Archives”


14:00-15:15 - Session 3
Reimagining Poetry, Representation and the Archive [chair: Will Harris / 
Jeremy Noel-Tod]

Milena Williamson, “The Belfast-Crimea Connection and Archival Poetics in Ciaran 
Carson’s Breaking News”
Joshua Clayton, “‘The Carcass Is the Canvas’: Zaina Alsous’s Dodo Poetics”
Hannah Twinberrow, “The Problems with Current Formal Approaches to Critically 
Valuing Disability Poetics” 

15:15-15:45 - Session 4 [chair: Georgina Colby]
Lisa Samuels, “Distributed Centrality and the Archive”

15:45-16:15 - Break 

16:15-17:00 - Keynote 
Bhanu Kapil, Keynote Speech 

17:00-17:30 - Plenary

Launch of the Sarah Maguire Archive 
The Enterprise Centre Foyer 
18:30-19:30 - Speeches and Readings, plus Archive Exhibition and Drinks Reception

For further information about the Symposium, please email: