February 2024
19–20 | Virtual
22–24 | In-Person

February 2024
19 - 20 | Virtual
22 - 24 | In-Person

DECEMBER 29 2023

LCLC51 Seminar Descriptions and Sign Up Instructions


“Syllabus Mirabilis”: A Celebration of the Chapbooks

Seminar Leaders Jameson Welch and Krista Kane invite attendees to join them in an exploration of the vitality of material, physical chapbooks today.  Participants are invited to bring chapbooks and share them so that these books can remain on display for the length of the conference.  Inclined seminarians can talk about or read from their chapbooks during the session.


Interested conference attendees should contact Conference Director Matthew Biberman to be included.

SEMINAR TWO (FRIDAY 1:30 to 3:30)

The Art of A. B. Spellman

This seminar explores the long career of A. B. Spellman upon the occasion of the publication of New and Selected Poems. This volume compiles out-of-print poetry, previously unpublished poetry, and stunning new poetry. Participants of this seminar will come together to examine Spellman’s influence on African American poetry and culture since the mid-20th century. Mr. Spellman will serve as a panel discussant and respondent. Lauri Scheyer (editor of the forthcoming Spellman’s selected) will moderate. Confirmed participants include Meta DuEwa Jones, Ben Lee, Jean-Philippe Marcoux, Aldon Lynn Nelson, and Tyrone Williams.


Attendees interesting in attending the seminar as either a discussant or (possibly) as presenters are asked to contact Matthew Biberman.


Trad/Trans/After After

Across its 600 pages, Vivek Narayanan’s After (NYRB Poets, 2022) works itself out as an engagement between Valmiki’s Ramayana and constellations of modernist and contemporary Anglophone poetics. This experimental translation and epic in ever-multiplying fragments explores what it might mean to come “after,” in all possible senses.  We invite seminar participants to engage with After (particularly the “translation manifesto” provided below) as a launching point for open-ended contributions, critical and/or creative, that speak to new possibilities for experimental poetics.  Relevant topics might include:

  • Intersections within and among the literatures and cultural productions of world mythology (including but not limited to reimaginations of Greco-Roman traditions)
  • the fruitfulness and pitfalls of experimental techniques in translation
  • Documentary poetics and its weavings of experimental translation and politics
  • translation as traversing borders: cultural, temporal, sacred/secular
  • the place of poetics in theories of translation or world literature
  • the status of the fragment and its relation to epic
  • current debates around translation in a global moment of possibility and retreat

In addition to the translation manifesto taken from After, we are happy to provide a digital copy of After.  In the spirit of an Oulipian intervention, we suggest participants feel free to simply open After at a random page and put that page or section into conversation with their own current projects or thinking.  Promiscuity is encouraged.

— John Beer, Philip Krumrich, and Vivek Narayanan (Seminar Leaders)

Sentences Toward Another Manifesto of Translation Practice (from After)

Our central anxiety about translation today is our (relatively recent) anxiety over authorship.

Long live the wonderful friendship between translation and hoaxes! Every trans- lation is a hoax at least in the sense that it is not what it claims to be: the author’s “own words.”

A new translation should be seen as an addition, not a replacement: translation is additive.

Every work of translation begins as a study. No translation is innocent.

“Faithfulness”: a foil, a cover, an alibi. “Accuracy”: when examined, always a term of imprecision.

But translation is always possible. Translation is the new art of the possible.

And translation is originality. Commentary, transcription, and calligraphy are allied original arts.

Part of the (relatively recent) conspiracy of nations in poetry is the fencing off of translations, suppressed or repressed as if they belonged to other literatures and not ours. (A few token exceptions to help police the line).

In 1857, the native sepoys of the colonial army plotted rebellion “behind the back” of the administration, in languages it hadn’t bothered to learn well enough. In the wake of this surprise—after a spell of brutal, even mindless retribution against the native city—the colonists famously set about bringing the natives fully into English. They embarked on perhaps the widest, most intricate effort of translation ever. Land tenure, customary law, you name it. Nothing should escape the predatory eye of English, no “inaccurate” or freely improvised trans- lation should ever be allowed or admitted to. It was a task of gathering but also fixing. The technology of the dictionaries they compiled helped them in this; but it also helps us, today.

And the boundary between languages no longer clear.

If translation can no longer be a consolation, what kinds of pressure and investment must it be willing to undergo? Under what terms do we endure mediocrity?

True translation is soul-fusion technology. Technology: i.e., techne.

Every translation is a collaboration among many, including all those who have come to this terrain before you. I am indebted even to those translations whose approach I reject because they gave me the benefit of having something to reject.

If nothing is to be lost, something must first be gained. All poetry is translation.

All translation is not poetry.

Translation is movement not equivalence.

Count me out—from the translation that seeks to exile the source.


Attendees wishing to join this seminar should contact conference director Matthew Biberman.