The School of English and the Ireland-India Institute held a one day symposium on the 20th May 2019 that thought through the phenomenon of unpublished work in poetry studies. The uses and valences of unpublished material for scholars were explored,and also the ethics of the post-mortem publication of work that poets had considered unfit for dissemination. To adapt Emily Dickinson, should poets “Invest/ Our Snow”? Should manuscript poems become print? Can you unpublish a poem, once it is published? What did Fernando Pessoa’s work gain from being largely unpublished in his lifetime?
The papers engaged with different kinds of unpublished material—manuscripts, diaries, sketches, letters and blog-posts— conceived by the poets. The media in which the ideas by poets are conceived is also worth attending to; in some cases, poets’ work has been unable to pass the threshold held by the gatekeepers of publishing in the lifetime of the poet only to be celebrated by later generations uninvolved in personal quarrels or political struggles. Do we consider work on coffee cups or posters, pasted on lamp posts, put up on walls to be published? Is a facebook or instagram poem published?
Plenary Lecture: Anjali Nerlekar, Associate Professor, Rutgers University and Co-creator of the Bombay Poets' Archive at the Kroch Library, Cornell University.