Berkeley Poetry Conference

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June 15–June 19 2015

berkeleys-free-speech-movement

The Berkeley Poetry Conference 2015 was conceived as a 50-year celebration of the Berkeley Poetry Conference that took place in 1965 only a few months after large demonstrations by the Free Speech Movement on campus.  The original conference was organized through UC Berkeley Extension by a committee that included a literary scholar (Thomas Parkinson), a local editor (Donald Allen of Grove Press), a Bay Area poet (Robert Duncan), and a local artist (Richard Baker).

We hope the 2015 conference will echo much of the same intellectual, creative, and polemical spirit of the original conference, which combined poetry readings with talks about poetics and poetry’s relationship to history or social and political life, by addressing what it means to write poetry and belong to communities of poets today.  Like the original, the event will be demanding in its duration, running from June 15th to June 19th.  All seminars, panels, and readings will be free and open to the public.

Selecting a representative group of poets for such an event is an impossible task.  However, one particular goal was to address the gender and racial biases of the original conference.  As a committee, we strived to identify poets who would help lead diverse, challenging conversations and present work that embodied a range of geographical, aesthetic, and social concerns.  We also privileged poets who are earlier in their careers.

The planning committee was composed of a range of scholars, students, and practicing poets from within the English and Comparative Literature departments at UC Berkeley.  Members include Charles Altieri, Daniel Benjamin, C. D. Blanton, Eric Falci, Rebecca Gaydos, C. S. Giscombe, Lyn Hejinian, Robert Kaufman, Evan Klavon, Serena Le, Christopher Patrick Miller, Geoffrey G. O’Brien, Samia Rahimtoola, and Mary Wilson.