International conference & workshop “Performative poetry: theories and practices. Comparative perspectives”

cartaz 3_Easy-Resize.comConference dates: 29-30th of October 2018 / Workshop held by Cristian Forte: 31st of October 2018 (11am-6.30pm)
Venue: School of Arts and Humanities of the University of Lisbon, Anfiteatro III and room B3

Versão portuguesa

Performance has always been linked to poetry, since the traditions of oral poetry and declamation, till the avant-garde experiences of poetic innovation or the practice of conference-performance. However, poetic creation, since Modernity, has been associated with individualised reading, with the fixation of the text on page, leaving behind other forms of performative-poetic production, embodied, that use other media of production and reception, such as experimental, conceptual, staged, improvised, site-specific forms.

Nevertheless, nowadays, we experience a renewal of live poetry practices that use the public space, with the international success of slam poetry, open mics, spoken word sessions, song, or poetry festivals, alongside a re-appreciation of orality, and the acknowledgement of the central role of “poetry beyond the book” in contemporary literature in general. If these events often correspond to alternative channels and the will to promote collective, popular, and participative/inclusive artistic forms, at the same time we witness a multiplicity of events and institutional locations devoted to poetry in performance.  Concomitantly, new technologies, mass media and the internet have had a strong impact on the creation and dissemination of poetry, for  instance, with the advent of digital poetry. The fading of borders between artistic disciplines has encouraged multimedia practices, that combine word with sound, image, dance, installation, etc., located in a intermedia zone, often difficult to define.

In parallel, we have witnessed in the past years a boom of different groundbreaking studies on the relationship between poetry and performance that respond not only to this artistic vitality but also to new notions derived from the area of intermediality. In Portugal, recent research work on Portuguese experimental poetry in the  1970-80s has been undertaken within the PO-EX project, namely works by Rui Torres and Manuel Portela on concrete, visual and sound poetry, or Sandra das Candeias Guerreiro Dias’s doctoral dissertation on “poetic experimental performance” in Portugal (2016). In France, for instance, Olivier Penot-Lacassagne and Gaëlle Theval have just published an edited book on French “performance-poetry” (2018); Stéphane Hirschi, Alain Vaillant and others another edited collection of essays on the social and musical vocation of poetry (2017); following the pioneer doctoral dissertation by Céline Pardo on “poetry beyond the book”. These works reinforce a literary field until recently neglected by scholars, with the exception of seminal works by Paul Zumthor and Ruth Finnegan on “oral poetry”, Charles Bernstein on the performed word, or Jean-Pierre Bobillot’s “mediopoetics”.

However, these studies are still focused on specific  historical periods and cultural areas, and thus no comparative perspectives on these poetries abound, apart from a few transnational approaches, such as Cornelia Gräbner and Arturo Casas’ collection on   performance poetry (2012), Claude Calame, Florence Dupont, Maria Manca and Bernard Lortat-Jacob’s study on oral and sung poetries from the Antiquity to the present, from an ethnopoetic perspective (2010), or the vast anthropological gesture of Jerome Rothenberg’s Technicians of the Sacred (1968), which paralleled the avant-garde happenings with ritual and traditional poetry and songs from around the world.

With this international conference, we propose to foster a comparatist, interdisciplinary, transnational and intermedial perspective on performative poetry, looking at filiations, circulations, exchanges between poets, artistic forms and countries, phenomena of contamination, mediatic transposition and remediation, centered on the 20th and 21st centuries, with the aim of contributing to a larger and renovated conception of the various ways poetry is defined and practiced in the contemporary world.

By “performative poetry”, we understand poetic practices in which the execution of the poem implies a direct action and a form of physical participation, whether from the poet (through his body or voice, immediate or mediated), an interpreter (speaker, actor/actress, performer), or the audience, transformed in a “co-enunciator”, who intervenes directly in the creation of the poem and event (answering, singing, provoking or manipulating). Within this open definition one can include various practices, genres and denominations: oral/aural poetry, song, sound and acoustic poetry, poetic intervention, experimental, digital, radio and TV poetry, spoken word, slam, rap, and any form of performative art considered (and defended as) poetry, whether it has or not a verbal component.

During the conference (days 29 and 30), in addition to academic presentations, debates and keynote conferences, artists will present their poetic practice in sessions dedicated to performance.

> Free entrance.

The conference will be followed (day 31) by the workshop “Evento Literário / Laboratório de escritas e poéticas em acção” by Cristian Forte, argentinian poet and artist living in Berlin (see: > Registration required, limited

Keynote speakers and conferences:

Cristian Forte (poet / artist, Argentina / Germany), “Del terror al error. Mecanismos de uso e instrumentos de cooperación en poesía” 

Cornelia Gräbner (Lancaster University, UK), “Comparative or Relational? Responding to Performance Poetry on 21st Century Ongoing Violence »

Rui Torres (Universidade Fernando Pessoa, Portugal), “Performative Poetry as Program, Programmed Poetry as Performance”

Program available Poesias performativas-programa-completo (PDF).

CFP in Portuguese, English and French available here.

This event is organized by the research project OFF-OFF-Lisbon: Alternative Urban Narratives of the group THELEME – Interart and Intermedia Studies of the Centre for Comparative Studies (CEC-FLUL).


Pénélope Patrix

Scientific & organizing committee:

Sandra Camacho

Manuela Carvalho

Verónica Conte

Vanessa Montesi

Pénélope Patrix

Marta Traquino

Workshop organisation:

Marta Traquino

Executive committee:

Rita Correia

Susana Miltão

CFP in English and French here.