AUP students by the Seine.

Department of Comparative Literature and English

Documentary Poetry, Popular Protest and Activism - An International Poetry and Poetics Seminar

6, rue du Colonel Combes, 75007 Paris (Combes Student Life Center)
Thursday, June 15, 2023 - 17:00 to Saturday, June 17, 2023 - 20:00

Co-Directors Geoff Gilbert and William Dow

The American University of Paris hosts a documentary poetry conference from 15-17 June 2023 on its campus in Paris, France. This conference is supported by the Center for Writers and Translators and the Center for Critical Democracy Studies.

Here are some questions the conference hopes to address. How do contemporary poets in the US and France position themselves in relation to popular political protest and activism? What use are they making of experimental documentary traditions (whose practices can be placed along a continuum from “subjective” auto-ethnographies to “objective” documentary tendencies)? How does writing outside France and the US relate to these two centers for poetry and poetics? What challenges does this offer to conceptions of the relation between poetry as an art form and other social and political utterances and actions? The conference will also look at the history of documentary poetry traditions in France and the United States, locating this history in an international, transnational, and pluri-disciplinary context.


All events will take place on AUP's campus in the Combes Student Life Center and the Quai d'Orsay Learning Commons. Entrance to both venues is via 6, rue du Colonel Combes, 75007 Paris.

All panels will take place in C-103 and C-104 (Combes first floor) and all plenary talks will take place in Q-801 (Quai eighth floor).

Thursday, June 15
Registration: 14:00–16:00

Lobby of the Combes Student Life Center (6, rue du Colonel Combes, 75007 Paris).


Opening Remarks: 17:30–18:00 (Q-801)

Official AUP Welcome by Provost William Fisher and professors Geoff Gilbert and William Dow


Plenary 1, 18:00-19:00 (Q-801)

Mark Nowak, “Slo-mo Doc-Po: Writing the Insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.”



Reception: 19:00–20:00 (Q-801)

Provisional list of poets:

  • Lauren Russell
  • Carlos Sotos Roman
  • Biswamit Dwibedy
  • Mark Nowak 


Friday, June 16
Panel 1: 9:30-11:00 (C-103 and C-104)

Diverse Beginnings: Documentary Forms and Poetics

Chair: Mark Nowak

  • Amir Hussain. “Poetic Pasts in Muriel Rukeyser’s The Book of the Dead.”
  • Jo A. Giardini. “Surveillance Autobiography and Dissident Reading.”
  • Whitney Devos. “Documentary Poetry: An Inter-American Genre.”


Plenary 2: 11:00-12:00 (Q-801)

Abigail Lang, « notre tradition “objectiviste” », or How the Document Can Extend Poetry. (Gleize, Quintane, Leibovici).


Lunch: 12:00–13:15

At area cafes and restaurants.


Panel 2: 13:15-15:00 (C-103 and C-104)

Radical Politics, the News from Documentary Poetry, Poetics of Resistance

Chair:  Aurélien Bellucci

  • Alvaro Seica. “Veiling and Unveiling: Poems that Protest by Erasing Documents.”
  • Aurélien Bellucci, “A Poetry of the Audience: Street Performance with the Janya Netya Manch.”
  • Carlos Soto Roman. "Cacería de Mujeres" (Women Hunt) by Carlos Droguett: a missing manuscript on violence against women during the Chilean dictatorship.


Coffee break: 15:00-15:30


Panel 3: 15:30-17:30 (C-103 and C-104)

Documentary Ethics and Appropriations

Chair: Ryan Clark

  • Jessica L. Wilkinson. “Dealing with Difficulty.”
  • Shiv Kotecha. “Documentary Fakery.”
  • Ryan Clark. “Appositional Writing,” Ethics of Appropriation in Documentary Poetry.”


20:00 Dinner at Macéo Restaurant Dêpots de Vins (separate ticket needed)
Saturday, June 17
Panel 4: 9:00-10:45 (C-103 and C-104)

Contemporary Forms of Documentary Poetry: Race, Polyvocality, and Documentary Mediation

Chair: Marie Lienard-Yeterian

  • Marie Lienard-Yeterian. “Reginald Dwayne Betts’s Felon: the Shadid (Witness) Speaks of Rivers Beyond.”
  • Naomi Toth. “Reginald Dwayne Betts: writing, redacting and fighting mass incarceration in the United States.”
  • Lauren Russell. “First Person Second?: A Writerly Reckoning with Uneasy Implications for the Author in Documentary and Investigative Poetics Projects.”


Plenary 5: 11:00-12:00 (Q-801)

Franck Leibovici, "des œuvres-outils."


Lunch: 12:00-13:15

At area cafés and restaurants.


Panel 5: 13:15-15:15 (C-103 & C-104)

Documentary Poetry: Public Spaces, Activism, and Intersectional Identities

Chair: Geoff Gilbert

  • K. Bellamy Mitchell. “Unsettling Racialized Regimes of Documentation in Divya Victor’s Curb.”
  • Sophie Rashmuhl. “Amy Uyematsu: ‘A Yellow Power Advocate Turned Poet’ ‘determin[ed] to create beauty/in defiance of barbed wire jails’.”
  • Andrés Guillo. “An Approach to Rap as Documentary Poetry.”
  • Lisa Waller and Jessica L. Wilkinson. “A poetic approach to understanding journalists’ experiences of covering institutional child sexual abuse.”


Panel 6: 15: 30-16:30 (C-103 and C-104)

Framing, Performance, and Documentary Referencing

Chair: Abigail Lang

  • Célia Galey. “Jackson MacLow’s Performance Poetry: A Living Archive.”
  • Josh Corson. “Against Erasure: Examining Persona, Race and Subjectivity in DocuPoetry.”
  • David Reckford. “A Documentary Turn in Poems Referencing Geography: from Langston Hughes’s ‘The Negro Speaks of Rivers’ to John Ashbery’s ‘Into the Dark Charged Air’.”


Closing Remarks


Hôtel Malar

Address: 29 Rue Malar, 75007 Paris

Phone: 01 45 51 38 46


Hôtel de la Tulipe

Address: 33 Rue Malar, Paris, France


Hôtel Eiffel Turenne

Address: 20 Av. de Tourville, 75007 Paris

Phone: 01 47 05 99 92


Hôtel Amélie

Address: 5 Rue Amélie, 75007 Paris

Phone: 01 45 51 74 75


Campus Map

Plenary speakers: Abigail Lang, Franck Leibovici, and Mark Nowak

Conference Fee: (includes coffee breaks and opening and closing receptions): 40 euros.

Dinner Fee: 60 euros.