Prudence Chamberlain

Contemporary Constellations
Trousers Tight Enough Not to Need Orion’s Belt
2nd October @ 6.00pm


This presentation aims to introduce the idea of the contemporary in relation to political poetics.  Considering the way in which time relates to the production of feminist works, I will justify positioning my poems as ‘contemporary’ as opposed to ‘modern’ or ‘present-day’.  Having explored the implications of this specific temporality, I will discuss its relation to Walter Benjamin’s ‘constellation’.  Rather than considering the poetic speaker as fixed, I will address the possibilities that a lyric subject can be constituted through a number of references that allow for mobility, while still suggesting a constituted self.  The use of multiple reference points, including places, names, low and high culture, allows for a lyric ‘I’ to move between multiple references, invoking an understanding in the reader entirely contingent upon sets of relations.  It is through these suggested relationships, that the political, personal and poetic are able to shed light on one another, demonstrating the interdependence of the three in formulating my flippant persona.

Having established the relationship between the contemporary and the constellation, I will explore the place of both within poems by Mina Loy, Frank O’Hara and Eileen Myles.  Demonstrating the ways in which all three poets engage with the obscurity of their own time through creating a constellated practice, I will turn finally to my own work on contemporary feminism, exploring the similarities and differences of methodology in regards to this political affective moment.

Prudence Chamberlain is a third year practice-based PhD students, developing a poetics of flippancy with which to document contemporary feminism.  Her work uses Mina Loy, Frank O’Hara and Eileen Myles to consider autonomy and levity while committing to communities of poetics and politics.