Friday, March 13 • 9:00am - 10:50am
Racializing Whiteness

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This panel considers the way whiteness participates in the racial dynamics of contemporary American poetry. As Toni Morrison assures an interviewer, we are all "raced." But what does that mean for white writers who have written with whiteness as their background, white on white? Markers of whiteness are deeply embedded into the expectations that govern how a thing or a person should be composed, into notions of legibility. Where do white writers’ choices implicitly or explicitly reveal how the writers are raced? How do decisions about subject or process impact poets of color? Presenters will engage with specific aspects of what happens as the white subject position becomes racialized. Presenters will discuss the topic through close readings, interrogations of personal work, creative erasure, and socio-historical reviews. This includes notions of anger as held against people of color, anxiety around the term “racist” as an adjective versus a noun, and an exploration of white male poets dragging the dominant lyric into a mode of interiority at a time when minority voices were gaining authority from an expanding speaker position. 


The full context of the Toni Morrison interview shows her responding to accusations of being preoccupied by race, and to “concerns” that she only writes about black subject matters. This highlights the problem of whiteness being somehow excluded from racial configurations, or, more to the point, the problem of race being recognized topically as an explicit social or political category and not by the micro-tendencies and residual effects of structuring (literary) perception on a white and euro-centric legacies. Beyond self-announcing efforts at incorporating race into a poetic project, how can race be made visible—through affective stances, tonal contours, procedural decisions? White poets have historically seemed unconcerned with race, though their indifference does not mean that their poetry does make statements about race. Where racial aspects of white have been discounted or under-investigated, this panel seeks to make interventions. 


avatar for Diana Arterian

Diana Arterian

Doctoral Candidate, USC PhD in Lit & Creative Writing
Diana Arterian was born and raised in Arizona. She currently resides in Los Angeles where she is pursuing her PhD in Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Southern California. She holds an MFA in poetry from CalArts, where she was a Beutner Fellow. Diana is a Poetry... Read More →

avatar for Todd Fredson

Todd Fredson

Todd Fredson is the author of the poetry collection, The Crucifix-Blocks (Tebot Bach, 2012), which won the 2011 Patricia Bibby First Book Award. His work has appeared in American Poetry Review, Blackbird, Gulf Coast, Interim, Poetry International, West Branch and other journals and... Read More →
avatar for Jen Hofer

Jen Hofer

Jen Hofer is a Los Angeles-based poet, translator, social justice interpreter, teacher, knitter, book-maker, public letter-writer, urban cyclist, and co-founder of the language justice and literary activism collaborative Antena. Her latest translations include the chapbook En las... Read More →
avatar for Farid Matuk

Farid Matuk

Assistant Professor, English and Creative Writing, University of Arizona
Farid Matuk is the author of This Isa Nice Neighborhood (Letter Machine, 2010) and My Daughter La Chola (Ahsahta, 2013). New poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Poetry, Boundary2, Floor, and Best American Experimental Poetry 2014. The Headlands Center for the Arts... Read More →
avatar for Carmen Giménez Smith

Carmen Giménez Smith

Carmen Giménez Smith recently co-edited the anthology Angels of the Americplyse: New Latin@ Writing (Counterpath, 2014). Her most recent poetry collection, Milk and Filth was a finalist for the NBCC. A CantoMundo Fellow, she is the publisher of Noemi Press. Her newest collection... Read More →

Friday March 13, 2015 9:00am - 10:50am MDT
UC 332

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