I arrived in time for the first panel session, and I chose to attend ‘Fragment and Process’. This featured three women; the equal representation of gender throughout the conference was something refreshing. In fact, without realising it I solely saw women presenting their papers that day. Susan Watson spoke about translations of Sappho, with Anne Carson at the centre. This was the first talk that inspired me to take note of unfamiliar authors and texts. Watson provoked interest from the onset, when she explained that the original Greek contained feminine endings, indicating the poet was a woman, whilst in the English translation, the gender of the speaker was not prescribed in this way.
This was the first talk that inspired me to take note of unfamiliar authors and texts.
Kathryn Maris continued on this topic, focusing on the use of brackets in If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho and artist book Nox, where she moved onto translation in terms of conversation. Carson is quoted as saying ‘when my brother died, I made an epitaph for him in the form of a book. This is a replica of it, as close as we could get.’
There was so much to take from this paper, that it was impossible to try to replicate it here other than to recommend following Maris’ work and include one of the beautiful fragments of poetry, said to be an attempt to access the unconscious. Such an example being Nuar Alsadir, who woke up at 3.15am to write a line of poetry as an experiment, writing fragments such as ‘Why the panic Alice B. Toklas? Why the uncooked eggs?’ — providing both humour and intrigue of meaning.
Lastly, Aoife Casby shared some of her writing, a reflection on her own process having led her to Carson’s poetry. She gave the context of her attitude towards language coming from a rural community in Ireland, with every aspect of life being affected by the church. She stated that her language is English and that she’s ‘not afraid to say it anymore.’
woke up at 3.15am to write a line of poetry as an experiment
It was inspiring that she created work from old notebooks, in terms of how fragments can be developed, or exists as parts of larger works. She also spoke of the importance of white space and the role of images as part of her process. This section ended with an interesting Q&A, followed by poetry from Ella Frears, who was probably my favourite poet of the day.
Part 2, The Place for Poetry: Visual Cultures, can be found here.