The annual Symposium on Poetry Criticism was co-founded by David J. Rothman and Jan Schreiber in 2010 to address a growing sense that critical writing — reviews as well as more global discussions of the state of contemporary literature — has lost its way. Aware that many writers and critics wished to shine a light on an activity most essential to a strong poetic culture, to make it less routine and more conscious and probing, Schreiber and Rothman initiated a conference that brings together some of the foremost poet-critics now active to discuss problems, objectives, and associated artistic and technical issues.
The organizers’ long-term goal is to produce regular book-length collections of essays on criticism as the MFA and the Symposium grow and expand. In the introduction for the papers from the first Symposium in Contemporary Poetry Review, Schreiber and Rothman wrote: “The very purpose of criticism has become murky: most reviews of poetry today offer blandly positive comments or, more rarely but just as annoyingly, knee-jerk negativity, without quoting enough of the verse at hand or producing enough evidence based on close textual reading to let the reader see what is being recommended or dismissed. If the poems have a discernible form, reviewers either ignore it, disparage it, or treat it as an obstacle the poet has heroically overcome. Most academic criticism — the kind published in quarterly journals — focuses on writers already accorded high standing and endeavors to further justify that standing. Certainly there are exceptions, as readers of this publication are aware. But even the best working critics — perhaps especially the best — have long perceived a need to articulate and reconsider the principles on which we operate.” Read the entire introduction>>
The fourth annual Symposium will take place July 25-28, 2013, during Writing the Rockies, a conference that runs in conjunction with the final weekend of Western’s annual MFA summer residency. As of October, 2012, plans are already afoot for an excellent roster, including many who have addressed the Symposium in the past, and details will be forthcoming on this site over the next several months.
All MFA candidates are automatically enrolled in the conference and MFA faculty and Advisory Board members regularly participate. All other interested writers and critics are invited and encouraged to attend. If you have questions about the symposium, email firstname.lastname@example.org. To join us, register for the symposium through Writing the Rockies.