Deracination: English(es): And The Practice Of Poetry — Master Class with Myung Mi Kim

Here are some of the nodes/considerations/questions that undergird the work we will be doing together during this class:

  • deracination: to be uprooted, isolated, and alienated from a native or customary geographical, social, linguistic, or cultural environment
  • ecological deracination: forced migration and uprooting of humans, alteration/obliteration of flora and fauna precipitated by environmental destruction (think: the valence of climate change, militarist agendas, waste products of predatory industrial practices) that render wide regions of the earth uninhabitable on an unprecedented scale
  • the greater [global] reach of English is prompting the greater production of “other Englishes.” We might consider these proliferating Englishes and their capacity to undermine ideological monolingualism. At the same time, this is also precisely the occasion to revisit the problematic of the primacy and ascendancy of English as a major language of position. We must continue to refurbish critically and affectively this on-going dialectical process between an “otherwise” of English and the re-inscription of English as a homogenizing and standardizing instrument.
  • an intricately indelible system of competence, correctness, and mastery underwrite the conception and practice of language permeating us at any given moment (e.g., orthoepy, orthology, orthography). If in one sense, our intrinsic participation in language is predicated on mastery, fluency, and normative adherence, how does this seal or skew what is deemed intelligible? To what degree is adherence/compliance a necessary element of participating in language and at point does this produce harm, a flattening/denuding of sensation, sense, vitality of person, language, and perception itself?
  • as thinkers, makers, and readers of poetry, how do we problematize this conjoined (exquisite) burden of compliance (in the sense of assent) and attend to the emancipatory potential of language, of poetry to cue plural fluencies/accents/prosodies, to avidly listen for the uncategorizable and the uncodified, and to register alterities, multiplicities, and irreducible difference.

In advance of the class, I will ask participants to send the following: first, readings (I use the word loosely) that they feel will augment the conversation around the rubrics I’ve mentioned above (from any discipline/ discourse/ genre/ medium they see fit; these can be essays, excerpts from a longer piece, fragments, images, even a single stanza.) Second, I invite participants to send in their own creative work to be discussed during the class, however covertly, adjacently, implicitly, improbably, they hover around the considerations I’ve posed.

During the class itself, we’ll begin by discussing the “readings.” The second part of the class will be devoted to linguistic/formal/prosodic writing experiments. We will close by discussing the creative work submitted by participants as they help elucidate and re-constellate the concerns of the workshop.

Myung Mi Kim

Myung Mi Kim’s books include Penury (Omnidawn), Commons (University of California Press), DURA (Sun & Moon and Nightboat Books), The Bounty (Chax Press), and Under Flag (Kelsey Street Press), winner of The Multicultural Publisher’s Exchange Award of Merit. Her fellowships and honors include awards from the Fund for Poetry, the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, Gertrude Stein Awards in Innovative North American Poetry, and the State University of New York Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activity. Kim is a Professor of English and Director of the Poetics Program at the University at Buffalo.

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