Founded in 1991 by Charles Bernstein, Robert Creeley, Raymond Federman, Susan Howe, and Dennis Tedlock, the Poetics Program developed out of the vision of UB English Professor (and sometime Chair) Albert Cook: that poetry and poetics could be taught in a doctoral program by non-academic poets. In addition to poet-scholars advising and directing dissertations and closely mentoring students, and to its commitment to innovative poetries and to use of the extraordinary archives and resources of UB's renowned Poetry Collection, the Poetics Program has been distinctive in its intensive re-envisioning of what studying "poetics" comprehends. Pedagogy and curriculum in Poetics has always encompassed subjects beyond modern and contemporary Anglophone and Western European poetry, to include ethnopoetics and cross-cultural poetics, theory and practice of translation, history and technologies of the book, oral cultures and historical to contemporary performance, the poetics of media, poetry as philosophy, poetry as science and anti-science ('pataphysics), the poetics of body and affect, and the poetics of poetry's cross-conversation with many disciplines, such as political economy and environmental studies.
Along with readings and talks given by poets and performers each semester, the Poetics Program has hosted and continues to present exhibitions, conferences, symposia, and special events on a wide variety of authors and subjects.
In concert with their scholarship, our students continue to engage in their lives as active poets and authors through the Program's support of myriad independent student ventures, such as journal and book publications, performances, research travel, and colloquia.
The Poetics Program creates a generative space for inquiry around poetry’s extraordinary and urgent critical re-grounding of foundational categories of thought and praxis. Poetry scrutinizes and activates language as a medium that materializes history and power and forms the very frames of perception and consciousness. The Poetics Program’s intensive focus on poetry’s capacity to re-world in turn fosters the making of scholarly and artistic work on alert—work that is profoundly responsive to the epochal shifts of the 21st century and that opens up new, consequential objects of study.