Professor Stephen Guy-Bray, ‘Coming Out In/To Poetry’

Friday 17th November 2017   18.00-20.00

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We were very lucky to be able to host Professor Stephen Guy-Bray who gave a talk titled, ‘Coming Out In/To Poetry’. Professor Guy-Bray’s talk addressed the idea that ‘[w]e all have coming out stories and we tend to think of them as personal and individual – our own property, our own history. But as we all have them, a coming out story can also be considered part of a vast communal project and, for poets, as a specifically literary project.’ In this talk Stephen Guy-Bray looked at two 20th-century poems (Luis Cernuda’s “Diré cómo nacisteis” and Adrienne Rich’s “A Valediction Forbidding Mourning”) and one 21st-century poem (Ocean Vuong’s “Someday I’ll Love Ocean Vuong”) in order to see how some poets have considered coming out as simultaneously personal and public.

Professor Stephen Guy-Bray (University of British Columbia) is a specialist in Renaissance poetry and queer theory, with interests in poetics and in comparative literature. His publications include Against Reproduction: Where Renaissance Texts Come From (2009), Loving in Verse: Poetic Influence as Erotic (2006), and Homoerotic Space: The Poetics of Loss in Renaissance Literature (2002). Along with Joan Pong Linton and Steve Mentz he edited The Age of Thomas Nashe: Texts, Bodies and Trespasses of Authorship in Early Modern England (2013) and with Vin Nardizzi and Will Stockton, Queer Renaissance Historiography: Backward Gaze (2009)

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Post Event write up from the University of Westminster website:

Westminster Queer London Research Forum hosts successful ‘Coming Out In/To Poetry’ event

30/11/17

On 17 November, the Queer London Research Forum, based at the University of Westminster, hosted a successful ‘Coming Out In/To Poetry’ event including a talk from renowned Professor Stephen Guy-Bray.

The Queer London Research Forum, co-directed by English Literature Senior Lecturer Dr Kate Graham and Nineteenth-Century Literature Reader Dr Simon Avery, aims to facilitate interdisciplinary discussion on various aspects of queer London, from the nineteenth century to present.

By bringing together academics, practitioners, students and those with an interest in queer issues more generally, the Forum seeks to encourage dialogue and debate about the range of London’s queer lives and experiences.

On 17 November, the Forum invited renowned Professor Stephen Guy-Bray, specialist in Renaissance poetry and queer theory, to explore two 20th century poems, ‘Diré cómo nacisteis’ from Luis Cernuda and ‘A Valediction Forbidding Mourning’ from Adrienne Rich, as well as one 21st century poem entitled ‘Someday I’ll Love Ocean Vuong’ and written by Ocean Vuong.

Coming out stories, often seen as personal and individual, can also be considered as part of a vast communal project, and for poets, as a specifically literary project. Professor Guy-Bray’s talk attempted to explore how some poets have considered coming out simultaneously personal and public.

Dr Kate Graham, Co-director of the Queer London Research Forum, said about the event: “Stephen’s talk brought together a broad range of poets – including Luis Cernuda, Adrienne Rich and Ocean Vuong – and energetically put them into dialogue with each other.

“In doing so, he offered an insightful reading of the relationship between textuality and the individual – but also deeply political – process of coming out. Stephen’s talk was a lovely combination of the rigorous and the accessible, which meant everybody present, from our undergraduates to the professors, was really engaged.”