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Documentary-Poetic Objects: How to Plug the Poetic Subject into the Material in the Post-Lyrical Age

April 28, 2017 -
12:00pm to 1:15pm
CISAC Central Conference Room (second floor), Encina Hall

Open to Stanford affiliates. 

RSVP requested.

Poetry is regularly subjected to various political taboos and formal restrictions, which put a halt to writing (it is sufficient to recall Arthur Rimbaud and Theodor Adorno). However, beyond these procedures of “resistance to poetry,” strategies for circumventing these prohibitions, for creating “poetry by other means,” are always emerging. 

As Mallarme argued, poetry consists not of ideas but of words. The consequence of bringing poetry down to earth in this way –– a material and, for those days, progressive act –– was that it fell into dependence on the idealism of the book/writing and can practically no longer be conceived beyond textual form. 

If poetry has once again grown antiquated, then this time it is because of its strong transcendental instantiation, because of the type of connection between the subject and its material, which is dictated by language. What is needed is a way to plug the poetic will into empirical data beyond its boundaries. 

The word has often been understood in avant-garde poetics as a thing-in–itself, as a self/un-referential formation; however, what was implied was a factualization of individual discursive elements, not entire poems, understood as objects. 

The concept of poems as objects which I am putting forward can be split into both a metaphorical sense (“ready-made textual objects”) and a literal sense. In both cases, what is implied is that certain poetic formations exist objectively before and apart from a poetic will (or that the function of that will differs fundamentally from previous ways of processing material). Such formations are opaque to the poetic subject and can only be registered by the subject after the fact.

Pavel Arseniev (born 1986 in Leningrad) is an artist, poet and theorist. As an artist, he works with the graphic aspects and materialisation of (poetic) text and was a participant of several international venues including Manifesta10, Büro für kulturelle Übersetzungen (Leipzig), «Disobidient objects» (Victoria and Albert Museum), III Moscow Biennale of Young Artists, Subvision kunst festival. Poems have been translated into English, Italian, Danish, Dutch, Bulgarian, Polish and Slovenian. Books of poems include: “Things that won’t fit inside your head” published by AnnaNova, 2005, and “Colorless green ideas sleep furiously” by Kraft, 2011. Articles have been published in the New Literary Observer, the Moscow Art Magazine, Political critique, and the newspaper of the Chto Delat collective. Arsenev is the editor-in-chief of the literary-critical magazine [Translit] and a recipient of the Andrei Bely Prize(2012). He was recently a Research Fellow at the Center of Research of Comparative Epistemology of Linguistics of Central and Eastern Europe (University of Lausanne, Switzerland).

Event Sponsor: 
CREEES Center for Russian, East European & Eurasian Studies
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