Poetics and Precarity

Edited by Myung Mi Kim & Cristanne Miller

Subjects: Literary Criticism, Poetry
Series: The University at Buffalo Robert Creeley Lectures in Poetry and Poetics
Imprint: Distribution Partners
Paperback : 9781438469980, 248 pages, May 2018
Hardcover : 9781438469997, 248 pages, May 2018

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Table of contents

List of Figures

Myung Mi Kim and Cristanne Miller

Breath and Precarity: The Inaugural Robert Creeley Lecture in Poetry and Poetics
Nathaniel Mackey

The Ga(s)p
M. NourbeSe Philip

Precarity Shared: Breathing as Tactic in Air’s Uneven Commons
Jennifer Scappettone

On Not Missing It
Elizabeth Willis

Here and Elsewhere: Creeley’s Notions of Community and Teaching as Circulation
Vincent Broqua

Constructive Alterities & the Agonistic Feminine
Joan Retallack

Precarity, Poetry, and the Practice of Countermapping
Adalaide Morris and Stephen Voyce

Supine, Prone, Precarious
Sarah Dowling

The Opening of the (Transnational Battle) Field
Heriberto Yépez

Appendix 1: Poetry in the Making: A Bibliography of Publications by Graduate Students in the Poetics Program, 1991–2016
James Maynard

Appendix 2: Schedule for the Robert Creeley Lecture and Celebration of Poetry, April 7–10, 2016

Appendix 3: “Poetics: (The Next) 25 Years” Conference, Seminar Topics and Participants, April 9–10, 2016

List of Contributors

Poets and critics address the potential of language to address the increasing level of discord and precarity in the twenty-first century.


At a time when wars, acts of terrorism, and ecological degradation have intensified and isolationism, misogyny, and ethnic divisiveness have been given distinctively more powerful voice in public discourse, language itself often seems to have failed. The poets and critics in this book argue that language has the potential to address this increasing level of discord and precarity, and they negotiate ways to understand poetics, or the role of the poetic, in relation to language, the body politic, the human body, breath, the bodies of the natural environment, and the body of form.

Poetry makes urgent issues audible and poetics helps to theorize those issues into critical consciousness. Poetry also functions as a cry to protest late capitalist imperialism, misogyny, racism, climate change, and all the debilitating conditions of everyday life. Hubs of concern merge and diverge; precarity takes differently gendered, historied, embodied, geopolitical manifestations. The contributors articulate a poetics that renders what has not yet been crystallized as discourse into fields of force. They also acknowledge the beauties of sound, poetry, and music, and celebrate the power of community, marking the surge of energy that can occur at a particular place at a particular moment. Ultimately, Poetics and Precarity fosters further conversations that will imagine the concerns of poetics as a continuously emerging field.

Myung Mi Kim is James H. McNulty Chair of English at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York. She is the author of several books of poetry, including Penury, Dura, and Under Flag, winner of the Multicultural Publishers Exchange Award of Merit. Cristanne Miller is SUNY Distinguished Professor and Edward H. Butler Professor of English Literature at the University at Buffalo. She is the author of many books, including Reading in Time: Emily Dickinson in the Nineteenth Century and Cultures of Modernism: Marianne Moore, Mina Loy, and Else Lasker-Schüler.


"Poetics and Precarity, edited by Myung Mi Kim and Cristanne Miller, works variously. The collection is part institutional festschrift, part archival documentation, part response to a conceptual call to think about breath and precarity, and part contribution to an ongoing intervention in the field of contemporary poetry and poetics. " — ASAP/Journal