WRITING UTOPIA 2020 is a manifesto/ritual/anthology that aims to both explore and perform the art of the utopian in contemporary poetics.
“This marvellous collection creates a map of interactive writings that at times directly experiment with ideas of utopia in language or in life, and at other times embrace the performative, translative and sonic to expand the reader/writer relationship. The diversity in form and language itself suggests utopia.”
- Ghazal Mosadeq
WRITING UTOPIA 2020
editors: Sally-Shakti Willow & Sarer Scotthorne
150 x 230 mm paperback
141 b&w pages
high-resolution, pixel-friendly PDF £5 buy
paperback edition £10 buy
cover art: Joe Evans
prior to July 5, purchases of either formats will include an invitation to a very special online launch event on Sunday July 5.
Free access to the launch is included with every purchase of the book.
Order your ebook or print copy by Sunday 5 July to reserve your place!
hi-res, pixel-friendly PDF £5 buy
paperback edition £10 buy
With funding from the University of Westminster’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Impaled By Sharp Points of Wonderment - CAConrad
“In these poems, the sticky residue of history and politics refracts the teeming stuff of dreams.”
“Much more than a parade of utopian reveries or dystopian nightmares, this rich, heterogeneous collection of contemporary radical writing performs the very enactment of utopian possibilities within language.”
14 - derek beaulieu
“Here, utopia – and language – is intrinsically performative, fictive, and ferociously or solemnly imaginative.”
“Writing Utopia 2020 is a tremendously generous and timely anthology, emerging into a world in the midst of weaponising ecological collapse - a world where the distinction between creation and destruction is blurred and often untenable - bristling with intellect and insurrection to sustain and aid us in making sense of it.”
Jo Lindsay Walton
Writing Utopia 2020 contains work from:
Bernadette Mayer, Rosie Šnajdr, Gloria Dawson, Laura Elliott, Travis Newbill, Angus Sinclair, Kimberly Campanello, CAConrad, Judy Kendall, Richard Skinner, Ellen Dillon, Karen Sandhu, Vik Shirley, Lydia Unsworth, callie gardner, Derek Beaulieu, Leslie Grollman, Tracie Morris, Jeffrey Pethybridge, Anne Waldman with Ammiel Alcalay, Sacha Archer, Laynie Browne, CDN Warren, Sally-Shakti Willow, Andrew Neil Hayes, Steven Waling, Catfish McDaris, Michael Harford, Lucia Sellars, Paul Hawkins & Martin Wakefield, Astra Papachristodoulou, Lisa Jayne, Peter Jaeger, Konstantinos Papacharalampos, Megan Heise, Dolly Turing, Jazmine Linklater, Joey Frances, Vicky Sparrow, Stephen Emmerson, Scott Thurston, Julius Smit, Robert Kiely, Hijab Imtiaz translated by Sascha Aurora Akhtar & Sarer Scotthorne
This extract from Sally-Shakti Willow’s manifesto of Utopian Poetics, WRITING UTOPIA NOW, gives some background to the concept of Utopian Poetics. Click here to read the full manifesto in Studies in Arts and Humanities Journal.
Writing that best performs the utopian also resonates with Isabel Waidner’s description of radical innovation in Liberating the Canon (2018). That is: Writing that works ‘across various systems of oppression (intersectionality), across formal distinction (prose and poetry, critical and creative, and the various genres), and across disciplines’.
Thomas More’s original coinage, Utopia, suggests both perfect place (Gk. eutopia) and no place (Gk. outopia). Drawing on this paradox, WRITING UTOPIA invites writers and readers to collaborate in co-creating a space of intersubjective connectivity between self and other that is both the place of equality and communion and the no-place that exists between writers and readers in the space/s of the text/s. Envisioning a better world in which to live – a world without the various forms of violence, oppression, prejudice and injustice that comprise our present global reality – writers are invited to play with the poetic possibilities of multiplicity, simultaneity, interconnectivity, materiality and more, to imagine and anticipate the potential Utopia/s to come. In this way, a space of intersubjective multiplicity is opened and activated in each vor/tex[t] with the potential to perform those utopian possibilities it anticipates.
With an introduction written by Sally-Shakti Willow, distilling the learning from her four-year immersion in the study and practice of utopian poetics, the anthology will include contributions from invited writers and poets to present a broad and heterogeneous collaboration of voices whose utopian visions will resonate, challenge and inspire. Radically and vitally, WRITING UTOPIA does not present one person’s utopia to the exclusion of all others but invites participation in the co-creation of utopian spaces in which disagreement and challenge are as necessary and welcome as agreement and harmony. These utopias will speak to and inform one another: sometimes opening up the discord of productive tensions; sometimes anticipating and precipitating one another; sometimes resonating and balancing each other. Completion and closure is not the aim of this utopian vision. The openness of enquiry, of constant flux and shifting fusion, is what keeps this utopia in the process of performance: creating, opening and yielding to each new reading with each new moment.
Examples of source texts that perform various elements of utopian poetics:
Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s Dictée (1982) – anticipating and performing the utopian possibilities of non-alienation (communion) and non-oppression (equality) through its linguistic and structural materiality, which opens and invites the reader into a space of intersubjective participation (which Cha calls ‘interfusion’)
Maggie O’Sullivan’s In the House of the Shaman (1993) – linguistic & lexical disruption and experimentation foreground language’s materiality and invite the reader to co-construct meaning from fragmentary remains
Anne Waldman’s Fast Speaking Woman (1996) & Trickster Feminism (2018) – laying down language as mantra, casting spells & creating rituals to make material transformation in the physical world through participation in the poem’s rhythmic action
CAConrad’s ECODEVIANCE: (Soma)tics for the Future Wilderness (2014) – embodying language through ritual as both protest and performance to manifest change in the material world; encouraging reader participation in both the ritual-making & the poem-making
Early roots of utopian poetics can be traced in:
Stéphane Mallarmé’s Un coup de dés jamais n’abolira le hazard (1897)
Mina Loy’s ‘Feminist Manifesto’ (1914), ‘Aphorisms on Futurism’ (1914)
William Carlos Williams’ Spring and All (1923)
Gertrude Stein’s ‘Composition as Explanation’ (1926)
H.D.’s Trilogy (1946), Hermetic Definition (1972), HERmione (1981)
Charles Olson’s ‘Projective Verse’ (1950), ‘Proprioception’ & ‘Human Universe’ (1965)
Allen Ginsberg’s Howl (1956) & ‘Wichita Vortex Sutra’ (1966)
Jerome Rothenberg’s Technicians of the Sacred (1968) foregrounds the global ritual & shamanic roots to which this manifesto of utopian poetics is indebted