From Victor Hugo and Arthur Rimbaud to Négritude writers and the Surrealists, poetry has long been a site of political expression and commitment. This panel brings together Marielle Macé and Jean-Marie Gleize, two contemporary French writers for whom poetry is not simply a textual site of political commitment, but, rather, a veritable means of concrete political action. Readings and discussions by both authors will grapple with the relationship between poetry and politics and reflect on contemporary poetry as a form of political practice. For Macé & Gleize, poetry is a salient means of confronting the myriad plights afflicting our world — for example, capitalist expansion, ecological devastation, and socioeconomic precarity. In the face of this, both authors also consider poetry as a means of being in solidarity with and defending diverse forms of life, from the migrants of Calais to the flora and fauna of the Earth. Further still, Macé & Gleize draw our attention to all that resists the ruinous logics of our contemporary world and create new worlds, such as the autonomous commune at Tarnac and the cabins built by those blocking the construction of an airport at the Zone à defendre (ZAD) at Notre-Dame-des-Landes. Poetry holds the potential of listening to these forms of life and cultivating worlds in common, nurturing the community, possibility, and freedom that dwell and circulate through them.
Marielle Macé is a writer, scholar, and Research Director at the CNRS, as well as professor of literature at EHESS. Her work brings poetry into dialogue with anthropologies of different forms of life – communities, environments, beings, and lives in their multiplicity. She is the author of numerous texts including Styles: Critiques de nos formes de vie (Gallimard, 2017); Sidérer, considérer : Migrants en France 2017 (Verdier, 2017); Nos cabanes (Verdier, 2019); and her most recent book Une pluie d’oiseaux (José Corti, 2022).
Jean-Marie Gleize is a poet, professor, and editor of the poetry review Nioques. He has taught at the Université d’Aix-en-Provence and the École normale supérieure de Lyon. He is considered to be one of the foremost theoreticians and practitioners of contemporary experimental French poetry. He is the author of over twenty books, including Tarnac, un acte préparatoire (Seuil, 2011); Le livre des cabanes (Seuil, 2015); Trouver ici (Seuil, 2018); and Dans le style d’attente (Les Presses du réel/Al Dante, 2022).
André Pettman (he/him) is a PhD candidate in French at Columbia University. His research focuses on communes and the communal imaginary in contemporary French literature.
This event is co-sponsored by the Columbia Maison Française and the Columbia Center for Contemporary Critical Thought.