Past Event

More Than a Manifesto: The Poet’s Essay

March 3, 2018
11:00 AM - 8:00 PM
Lenfest Center for the Arts

Organized by Dorothea Lasky, Writing.

Ken Chen, Anaïs Duplan, Ariel Goldberg, Myung Mi Kim, Wayne Koestenbaum, Tracie Morris, Raquel Salas Rivera, Brandon Shimoda, and Cecilia Vicuña. Keynote address by Fred Moten, NYU.

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 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 More Than A Manifesto symposium will explore the possibilities inherent in this original conception of the essay, and ask esteemed 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 day will be organized around three themes: "Logic, Aesthetics, Meaning, and Memory in a Poem-Essay," "The Essay, The Manifesto, and The Poetic Imagination," and "Contradictions, The Sea, and The Snow: A Poem-Essay as the Open Space." Presenters will respond to these themes with original work and also will engage in collaboration and conversation. The day will culminate with a keynote speech by Fred Moten. Eventually, the poets' original writing for the event will be compiled into a book.


11:00 am: Welcome and Introduction

Dorothea Lasky


11:30 am–12:45 pm: Logic, Aesthetics, Meaning, and Memory in a Poem-Essay

Ariel GoldbergKen Chen, and Wayne Koestenbaum


12:45–1:15 pm: Discussion


1:30–2:45 pm: The Essay, The Manifesto, and The Poetic Imagination

Tracie MorrisAnais Duplan, and Raquel Salas Rivera


2:45–3:15 pm: Discussion


3:30–4:30 pm: Break


4:30–5:45 pm: Contradictions, The Sea, and The Snow: A Poem-Essay as the Open Space

Myung Mi KimCecilia Vicuña, and Brandon Shimoda


5:45–6:15 pm: Discussion


6:30 pm: Keynote Address

Fred Moten


Co-presented by Columbia University School of the Arts and The Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities. This event was also made possible by a Lenfest Junior Faculty Grant and the Katherine Garrison Chapin Seminars in Poetry Fund.