“New eyes, new thought, new distance!” Czesław Miłosz captures with these words the first set of key prerequisites for surviving exile; second comes inevitably, so he explains, their literary articulation.
This panel on “EXILE AND POETRY” strives to illuminate one of the myriad expressions of the creativity of exile: The writing of poetry. Concomitantly it will explore poetry as a critical means of processing the experience of exile, of finding inroads into new cultures and arguably overcoming the existential caesura caused by uprootedness and displacement.
The panel focuses on NS-exile, which started in 1933 yet continued, as it was, often during the post-war years. It intends to initiate a discussion about the lyrical responses to the experience of exile from writers whose dominant literary language was German. Notably, they often continued writing in German without a proper audience. Sometimes they adopted the language of their host countries just to find that their writing, intended to overcome their own sense of alienation, acutely accentuated the alienating gap between their life experiences and the lives lived by people around them. At times, they successfully inscribed themselves into new spaces and cultures and occasionally even identified profoundly with the societies in which they increasingly partook.
Coming to terms with geographic, cultural and linguistic displacement and frequently attempting to cope with the corollary sense of fundamental alienation, an unceasing fear of persecution, the smarting loss of loved ones, and irrupting economic hardship are just some of the descriptors of many an existence in exile. They became, next to other forces, the creative backdrop of a trove of distinctive poetry.
In unique ways, exilic poetry offers visions of the writers’ past and present surroundings and insightful voice-overs to the unfolding catastrophes of the twentieth century. It recalibrates notions of personhood and the meaning of social contracts. It reconstructs damaged lives, and speaks of trauma and reclaimed hope under most volatile historical circumstances.
The panel organizers solicit proposals for presentation on these or pertinent aspects of exile and poetry. Please submit a 250 word abstract by January 25, 2013 by email to Cindy Renker (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Kathrin Seidl, Brandeis University (email@example.com). Early submissions are encouraged to allow for additional time to carefully assemble the panel.
We will confirm all submissions immediately and inform about the acceptance of proposals by Monday, January 28.
Presenters have to be members of the German Studies Association.
Once proposals are selected, a more specific title for the panel will be adopted.
Kathrin Seidl, Brandeis University (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Cindy K. Renker, University of Texas at Dallas
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