The idea for this special issue of kadar koli emerged from a question posted by British poet Keston Sutherland to the UK poetry listserv and to the Sous Les Pavés online discussion group in response to “calls for violence” during and after the U.K. protests: “I … want to know what people think about the wishing for and urging of violence (against whom? just the police, or who else? how?).” One example cited by Sutherland is Justin Katko’s “Lines for a Protest Song, After 9 December”:
Sometimes I wish that instead of their horses
They’d call up the hold where they store their guns;
And when they shoot one of us down we’ll rise up stronger,
For in the taste of our blood be remembered we are one.
Sutherland’s question is an urgent one, particularly for participants in the “Occupy” movement who are debating the role of violence in collective action, its justifications and consequences: What kind of violence? Coming from whom? For what ends? Indeed, from Tunisia to London to Oakland, our current geo-political landscape has been swept by a series of uprisings, reminding us of the power of mass mobilization and of the intimate connection between violence and democracy. What role does or can poetry play in these uprisings? This question suggests the venerable problem of aesthetics and politics: How might thinking about violence alongside poetic practice throw different light on this quandary?
These questions open up other areas of possible inquiry that fall under the general heading of violence and contemporary poetry. How have contemporary poets responded to or documented different kinds and instances of violence? What kinds of poetic practices have been developed as a result of violence? How does violence get defined or named by poetry? Slavoj Žižek says we should distance ourselves from “the fascinating lure” of “violence performed by a particular agent” and instead try “to perceive the background which generates such outbursts.” How does or can poetry disclose the unseen contours of the violence that determines our everyday lives? How can poetry illuminate—or sound out—the histories of discipline and punishment that determine the quotidian?
Violence is often said to be “meaningless.” But perhaps violence does have meaning. What can it tell us? How does it communicate? Perhaps, it is only the poem that can help us answer these questions. How have poets reckoned with the ways that language itself is bound up with violence? Similarly, how might the poetic act be an act of violence, however necessarily?
Finally, it might be said that the same logics that structure our socio-cultural realities also shape the field of contemporary poetry. Certain “brands” of poetry, for example, remain dominant. The editors would like to see work that tackles the structural violence that shapes our field.
For this special issue of kadar koli, we invite submissions that reckon with the relation between violence and contemporary poetry. We seek poetry, short critical statements (max. 1,500 words), and longer critical essays (max. 4,000 words). We are also interested in art (collage, photographs, drawings). Deadline for submission is January 15.
kadar koli 7 will be produced as a print journal, as well as an open-source, downloadable file, in Spring 2012.
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