Manifestos-R-Us: The Possibility of Possibility


Gene Tanta, Vanessa Place, Snežana Žabić, Amy King, Tasha Marren

I hope my event will change some minds and hearts about the received categories through which we usually experience the new. This event will challenge readers and listeners to reconsider received ideas about our association of the new as the good. Out of this discomfort, I hope empathy and tolerance grow since these practices have never been more needed than now, which of course is forever and in the future. 

The manifesto moment came and went in a blinding flash of bravado just about a century ago. Much given to mimesis, the manifesto wanted to show that not only art for art’s sake was possible, but that life for life’s sake was also possible. Why divide art from life? Who benefits by these divisions of labor? A little later, Walter Benjamin wondered: what is the new without the question of freedom but mere fashion? What kinds of writing become possible after we stop trying to “make it the new”? How do you imagine your freedom?

I want to invite participants to use the has-been manifesto form to tell/show/perform the has-been idea of “make it new”? These brief statements of formal alarm will guide, convince, and convert us to the possibility of possibility in writing today. How can we imagine an affirmative postmodernism in the literary arts? What is your vision for the poetic future or for the future of poetry? How does the tone of the manifesto itself (us versus them) speak to the perpetual crises of form sparked by the death of the agent?