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’, will bring together researchers in these areas to discuss the kinds of question such a project raises. 250-word proposals for 20-minute papers are invited on topics in the following or related areas, with reference to poetry written after 1950:

  • the value and vulnerability of poetry archives
  • archival poetics / poems of the archive
  • under-representation and the archive
  • queering / decolonising the archive
  • race / class in the archive
  • disability poetics and the archive
  • conceptual / visual / performance poetry and the archive
  • the poet as archived subject
  • creative criticism in the archive
  • teaching with the archive
  • non-textual objects in the archive
  • the hybrid / digital archive
  • the archive beyond the university
  • new models for the archive
  • small press and magazine archives

Papers on any of the poets involved in the pilot project are actively encouraged, although their archive materials at UEA will not be available to researchers until later in 2023. We would also particularly welcome papers that make use of the archive of Sarah Maguire – feminist poet and founder of the Poetry Translation Centre – which has now been catalogued on the BACW website and will be officially launched with an exhibition and reading at the conference.

Key dates/timeline

The Call for Proposals is open and closes 6th March 2023. Please submit abstracts to the email address below.

Registration for attendance at the conference is now open and closes on 4 May 2023.  


If you have any queries, please contact us: