Poetic Currency Symposium

“To hell with the poem, I need 120 shekels" — Dahlia Ravikovitch, The Little Prince Cafe and Bookstore, Tel Aviv

The term currency has a rich range of meaning, encompassing both the historical and temporal, as well as considerations of cultural and economic value and their relation. Poems can be said to claim the status of currency in the way that they circulate, translate and are exchanged but do poems put food on the table, can they help pay the rent? These questions prompted the poet Dahlia Ravikovitch to write, “To hell with the poem, I need 120 shekels.” And yet, when Samuel Coleridge wrote “To Fortune, On Buying a Ticket in the Irish Lottery,” he may not have won the lottery but he earned a guinea for the poem and greater visibility for his work. In the decade following the 2008 global economic crisis, poets across the globe have engaged in a sustained critique of the language and forms of capital, advancing new modes of circulation against the hegemony of the global book market, activating currency through translation, and aligning their work with protest activity. But poets have long acknowledged the vexed and complicated relation between poetry, capital and labour. Contemporary poetry has drawn from this rich history, and rewrites and retranslates it.

Poetic Currency was a collaboration of Oxford Comparative Criticism and Translation (OCCT), Stanford University and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and was co-organized by Adriana X. Jacobs (Oxford), Vered Shemtov (Stanford) and Anat Weisman (BGU). Proceedings will be considered for publication in the Fall 2017 issue of Dibur, a peer-reviewed journal based at Stanford

The  event on 18 May started off with welcome remarks by Adriana X. Jacobs (Oxford), Vered Shemtov (Stanford, DIBUR), Anat Weisman (BGU), and Matthew Reynolds (St. Anne’s College/OCCT). This was followed by a keynote address by Adriana X. Jacobs and DPhil candidate Kristin Grogan (Oxford). We ended the evening with a public poetry reading with Claire Trévien (UK); Tahel Frosh (Israel); Roy ‘Chicky’ Arad (Israel). The venue was Seminar Room 10 of the New Building at St Anne's College, 5:00-7:30pm.

On 19 May, a series of talks took place. Speakers included Eleni Philippou (Oxford); Kasia Szymanska (Oxford), Idan Gillo (Stanford); Anat Weisman (BGU); Shira Stav (BGU); Roy Greenwald (BGU). The venue was Seminar Room 1 of St Anne's College, 10-18:00pm.