Poets and Critics Symposium 2018.1 : Carla Harryman, Thursday 15 and Friday 16 February

screenshot from http://carlaharryman.com/
screenshot from http://carlaharryman.com/

The next Poets and Critics Symposium will be devoted to the work of Carla Harryman.

Thursday 15 and Friday 16 February, 2018.

Université Paris 7 Denis Diderot, Bâtiment Olympe de Gouges
8 rue Albert Einstein, 75013 Paris

9:45am-5pm, room 830 (8th floor of the Olympe de Gouges Building).

Howimage doigt petit to get there?
For detailed instructions and directions, click HERE.

Poetry reading Carla Harryman and Juliette de Laroque

Thursday 15 February, 6:30 pm
Bétonsalon – Centre d’art et de recherche
9 Esplanade Pierre Vidal-Naquet, 75013 Paris

If you would like to attend the symposium and are not already in touch with us, please contact us and we will send you information, instructions about and directions to the symposium:

Thus far, we have focused on the writer’s own (creative and critical) work on the first day of the P&C symposiums and on broader issues of poetics and practice-based criticism on the second day. But there’s no specific preconceived program for the 2 days of the symposium: as the previous sessions of the program have shown, it seems important to let the conversation take its own course.

Please note that the morning session of the first day is devoted to preparing the conversation with Carla Harryman which will take place during the afternoon session and the second day. Carla Harryman will be joining the group at 2pm on Thursday 15 February.

As usual, we intend to address all aspects of our guest’s work as poet, prose writer, playwright, critic, and editor. Please feel free to make suggestions as to particular books that you would like to discuss during the symposium.

Our Monday afternoon session with Carla Harryman should end by 6 pm, which will leave ample time for everybody to get to the poetry reading.


Carla Harryman was born in Orange, California in 1952. She attended the University of California at Santa Barbara and San Francisco State University.

Known for her boundary breaking investigations of genre, non/narrative poetics, and text-based performance, she is the author of many books including the diptych  W—/M—(2013), the Essay Press collection Adorno’s Noise (2008), Baby (2006), Gardener of Stars: A Novel (2001), and two volumes of selected writing: Animal Instincts: Prose, Plays, Essays published by This Press in 1989 and There Never Was a Rose Without a Thorn published by City Lights Books in 1995. An active collaborator, she is author of The Wide Road (with Lyn Hejinian, 2011) and one of ten co-authors of The Grand PianoAn Experiment in Collective Autobiography: San Francisco, 1975-1980 (2006-2010).  Open Box, a CD of music and spoken text performances created with composer and musician Jon Raskin, was released on the Tzadik: Key Series label in 2012.

“I prefer to distribute narrative rather than deny it,” writes Harryman in her essay “Toy Boats,” first published in 1986. The tension between narrative and nonnarrative she engages in her writing led early on to her work in performance, which approached the complexity of the “language centered text” as a site of collective listening, interpretation, and ensemble collaboration. In participating in the development of the Poets Theater that emerged in the San Francisco Bay Area in the late 1970s, she also drew from performance art and ideas derived from structured improvisation within the music scene. The combination of these interests resulted in an on-going investigation of language and text in performance.

Her Poets Theater, interdisciplinary, and bi-lingual performances have been presented nationally and internationally. At the invitation of dOCUMENTA 13 (2012), she performed with improviser Magda Mayas her score Occupying Theodor W. Adorno’s “Music and New Music,” a Re-performance. The work rewrites Adorno’s 1959 lecture as a text for structured improvisation. This is one of many recent performances inspired by music, speaking voice, and text collaborations with Raskin, with whom she has performed frequently, including several versions of Mirror Play: in San Francisco, Detroit, and Wels, Austria. Their collaboration-in-progress Gardener of Stars, an Opera fuses Poets Theater idioms with their experimental approach to music-text improvisation.

Harryman has reflected on questions of narrative, non/narrative, and poetics in the edited volume Journal of Narrative Theory. Non/Narrative 41. No. 1 (Spring, 2011) and the co-edited volume Lust for Life: on the Writings of Kathy Acker (Verso, 2006).  She has also written essays and given formal talks on the poetics of prose and performance as well as women’s experimental poetry. Among these are “Something Nation: Radical Spaces of Performance in Linton Kwesi Johnson and cris cheek” (Diasporic Avant-gardes, 2009); “Residues or Revolutions of the Language of Acker and Artaud” (Devouring Institutions, 2004);  “Rules and Restraints in Women’s Experimental Writing,” (We Who Love to Be Astonished: Women Experimenters and Performance Writing, 2001), and “The Obituary of the Many,” a keynote lecture on The Obituary by Canadian novelist Gail Scott delivered at The Cryptic (Columbia University, New York, 2014). She has also written several essays on the subject of motherhood, childhood, language, and writing, including “Wild Mothers” (Moving Borders: Three Decades of Innovative Writing by Women, 1998): these works complement the more fully elaborated consideration of “the child” and “young person” in Vice (1986), Gardener of Stars, Baby, and Sue in Berlin.

Her writing has been translated for publication and/or performance in French, Spanish, German, and Czech, with smaller selections in Japanese, Danish, Serbian, Italian, Romanian, and Swedish. She is the recipient of an artist award from The Foundation of Contemporary Art, New York; an Emergency Grant for The Foundation of Contemporary Art in support of her performance Occupying Theodor W. Adorno’s Music and New Music, an Opera America Next Stage Grant (with Erling Wold) for text adaptation and dramaturgy of A Little Girl Dreams of Taking the Veil; an American Embassy in Romania grant for presentations in Romanian universities; awards from The Fund for Poetry; a Special Awards in the Arts (in poetry) from the Alexander Gerbode Foundation; and New Langton Arts/NEA Consortium Grant Playwright Commission for the writing and production of There Is Nothing Better Than a Theory.

In 1995, she moved with poet Barrett Watten and their son Asa from the San Francisco Bay Area to Detroit.  She serves on the faculty of Eastern Michigan University, where she currently coordinates the creative writing program. She also serves on the faculty of the Milton Avery School of the Arts MFA Program at Bard College, New York.


Leave a Reply