Sigma Tau Delta lecture series: Lytton Smith on poetry and (failed) teleportation

Poet and SUNY Geneseo Assistant Professor of English Lytton Smith will be the next speaker in the ongoing faculty lecture series sponsored by Geneseo’s chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, the international English honor society.

Prof. Smith’s title is “Poetry as (Failed) Teleportation: A Talk and Reading.” He’ll be talking (and reading) this coming Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. in Welles 128.

In the aftermath of natural disaster and political oppression, he’ll ask, where might we find poetry? What might poetry do for us, for others?

Tracing a line between Google Satellite imagery, obscure NFL rules, and 21st century Burma, Prof. Smith’s recent book of poems, While You Were Approaching the Spectacle But Before You Were Transformed by It (Nightboat, 2013) explores the role a poem might have in connecting us to far-off events and unfamiliar places. In Tuesday’s talk and reading, he’ll discuss his research and writing process and argue that poetry’s meaningful contribution to ethics and politics might be formal rather than emotional. Somewhere beyond Bertolt Brecht’s resistance to empathy and Martha Nussbaum’s argument for compassion, we might find an aesthetics in poetry that presents us with the dilemma of our own implication in distant happenings.

Followers of Prof. Smith’s work should also take note of his ongoing series of poems co-authored with poet Adam O. Davis; six of these poems, together with a jointly authored poetics statement, appear in the collaborative online magazine of poetry and poetics Likestarlings. A meditation on the unraveling and intertwining histories of the U.K. and the U.S., Davis and Smith’s poems are also an experiment that question the idea of authorship.

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