POEPOLIT Colloquium “The poetic and the political in today’s society”


The POEPOLIT Colloquium “The poetic and the political in today’s society” will take place on the 20th and the 21st of September 2018, in the Anfiteatro Nobre of the Faculty of Humanities of the University of Porto.

“L’écrivain est en situation dans son époque: chaque parole a des retentissements. Chaque silence aussi”. This sentence by Sartre hasn’t yet lost its punch, especially as pertains today’s migrant crisis. But one should also bear in mind that the Fall of the Berlin Wall has led to an intellectual crisis, which can be associated with the end of an era. It has been necessary to leave certain cultural, colonial and nationalist myths behind, and this change has come along with a feeling of disenchantment that Walter Benjamin dubbed “the left’s melancholia”. Poetry has not kept itself apart from these and other fundamental changes and, in the words of Gabriel Zaid, “it can be as useful or as useless to illustrate the world as prose”, especially in what concerns the need for social, political and economic changes, etc.

With this in mind, this international colloquium, an event organized by the POEPOLIT team of the University of Vigo and the Intermedialities Group of the Margarida Losa Comparative Literature Institute (FLUP), aims to examine some of the key political issues in contemporary western poetry. Drawing upon textual analyses and the study of intermedial phenomena, we will discuss whether poetry and poets ought to be acknowledged as conformists or as carriers of a special epistemology; we wish to assess whether they have an impact on society and, if so, to see whether society recognizes their influence. We seek to examine the consequences and the potential risks entailed by poetry that sees itself as apolitical or removed from society; and we want to know if the present horizon of the political can be expanded through new languages and new poetic and critical events, whether verbal, intermedial or interartistic.

We are interested in practices of poetic meditation and their political implications: practices of political intervention, particularly via today’s many social movements; the relation between politics and authorship; and finally the relation between poetry and the neoliberal city.

While doing research about contemporary poetry, one comes across conflicting perspectives about the relation between poetry, identity, aesthetics and ideology. Our aim being to go beyond mere textuality, whether by treating poetry as an example of contemporary cultural production, or as a bastion of resistance against ideas and practices that seek to homogenize experience, we think it is essential to consider poetry and poetic expressions in their social and political contexts.

To debate these questions, we have gathered specialists from ten different countries and geo-cultural spheres. In two conferences and eight roundtables, we will explore the relation between the poetic and the politic from the angles of philosophy, theory, comparativism and hermeneutics. We wish to probe how poetic practices converge in different spaces, systems, texts and bodies, bringing together public and private, orality and performance; we also want to explore the effects of the digital age; literary figurations of the lysergic, excrescence, but also of calcocracy (the domain of beauty), hygienic reason, norms and entropy; we want to reflect on the notions of the “poetic”, the “happening”, “performance”, and other literary and communicative genres in which the poetic manifests itself (slogans, songs, hymns, manifestos and tweets).

We will critically examine the poetic and the political taking into account the limits and the conflicts of social (non)communication; social critique, generally centered in the study of narrative fiction; but we will also consider how European and Latin American poets critique political and socio-economic relations in their work. We want to reflect upon the poetic discourses of different socio-cultural contexts with manyfold social and political ramifications. We are interested in the relation between politics and daily life, philosophy and rebelliousness, but also alienation and the different forms of violence that prevent humans and nonhumans from coexisting in an integrated form; the neoliberalization of cities, turistification, the invasion of natural spaces, etc.

We also aim to draw attention to the many strategies developed that female poets develop to position themselves in the literary field and configure new poetic genealogies. Drawing upon different kinds of feminisms, we wish to revisit and debate concepts like authorship, ethos, the poetic subject, the corporeal subject, literary genealogy and public/political intervention. We will try to show how contemporary debates about feminist and gender theories can contribute to the formation of a space of resistance and how poetry can work to counteract the neoliberal system that perpetuates sexist, racist, heteronormative and anthropocentric discourses.

We will, more specifically, consider eleven different socio-cultural contexts (Argentina, Brazil, Spain, United States, Finland, France, Galicia, Mexico, Basque Country, Peru, Portugal) and more than twenty poets (Adília Lopes, Alberto Pimenta, Antón Reixa, Armando Silva Carvalho, Chus Pato, Fernando Merlo, Grecia Cáceres, Itxaro Borda, Jaime Labastida, Jarid Arraes, Jorge Castro, José Humberto Chávez, José Miguel Silva, Juan Ortíz, Liliana Lukin, Lupe Gómez, Manuel Gusmão, Minerva Margarita Villarreal, Ron Rash, Roxana Crisólogo, etc.). There will also be music by Luca Argel and the Galician group CintaAdhesiva.

This multiperspectival analysis of contemporary practices and discourses of poetic resistance will help us reassess the effects of performativity and its political efficacy, allowing us to update our understanding of the poetic, in line with what Roberto Saviano recently described as

[the] usual duality: the kind of art that takes a stance and that which arrogantly decides not to do so. The former thinks it’s above the latter in the name of social compromise, and the latter thinks its above the former in its defense of disinterested purity. Fragile ideological barriers collapse before the dead in the sea and the neverending lies.

Free admission.


We draw your attention to the opening address by António Méndez Rubio – “Una comunicación otra (poética, política, crisis)” and Ana Luisa Amaral’s closing session “Vergonha é consentir: Entre o poético e o político.”







Organizing Committee
Alba Vidal Fernández (I Cátedra Internacional José Saramago)
Antía Monteagudo Alonso (Universidade de Vigo)
Burghard Baltrusch (Universidade de Vigo)
Joana Matos Frias (Universidade do Porto)
Lurdes Gonçalves (Instituto de Literatura Comparada Margarida Losa)
Rosa Maria Martelo (Universidade do Porto)

Scientific Committee
Anxo Angueira Viturro (Universidade de Vigo)
Helena González Fernández (Universitat de Barcelona)
Margalida Pons (Universitat de les Illes Balears)
Paulo de Medeiros (University of Warwick)
Silvia Bermúdez (University of California, Santa Barbara)