‘The Moment Made Eternal’: At The Intersection of Photography and Poetry [NEMLA 2015; Toronto; April 30-May 3, 2015]

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Writing about Alfred Stieglitz’s photography in 1923, Hart Crane said, “Speed is at the bottom of it all. The hundredth of a second caught so precisely that the motion is continued from the picture indefinitely: the moment made eternal” (qtd. in Sontag’s On Photography 65). A thoroughly modern art form, photography reflects the sense of urgency and impulse to record found often in poetry. As discrete units of artistic representation, the photographic image and the poem unveil new ways of looking and interpreting. Both art forms seek to represent that moment, that impression attempting to make the moment eternal, in the image and in the text.

From the Imagist poem, to the aesthetic experimentation with visual poetic structures in the late 20th century, to the contemporary digital intermingling of poetry and photography, the intersection of the poem and the photograph is a rich arena for exploration. This panel delves into photography and poetry, anticipating nuanced and unexpected insights by placing the two artistic genres in conversation.

This call solicits papers that interrogate how these arts influence one another. The influence of photography shapes how we document, interpret, represent, and memorialize events. From the arenas of international war and atrocity to landscape photography, personal portraits, or the digital realm of Instagram, this art form is the shorthand for how we interact with one another. Like the photograph, the poem elicits a primal response of recognition from the reader, similar to Barthes’s punctum, “that accident which pricks” (Camera Lucida 27). The aim of this panel is to explore this response in photographs and poems. Does the poem act upon the reader like the photograph affects the viewer? How do poetic forms influence photography? How do photographers and writers “write with light” – either in poetry or photography?

Please submit 200-250 word abstracts by September 30, 2014, directly through the NeMLA site. Here is a direct link to submit an abstract: https://nemla.org/convention/2015/cfp.html#cfp15189

Feel free to contact me with questions: hartmann.la@husky.neu.edu