Westminster Queer London Research Forum hosts successful ‘Coming Out In/To Poetry’ event
English 4 December 2017
The Queer London Research Forum, co-directed by English Literature Senior Lecturer Dr Kate M. 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 (cover picture), 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 M. 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.”
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