&Now Festival (Event Series)

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&NOW is a biennial traveling festival/conference that celebrates writing as a contemporary art form: literary art as it is practiced today by authors who consciously treat their work as a process that is aware of its own literary and extra-literary history, that is as much about its form and materials, language, communities, and practice as it is about its subject matter.

&NOW brings together a wide range of writers who are interested in exploring the possibilities of form and the limits of language and other literary modes and who are interested in literature that emphasizes text as a medium, that investigates the essential emptiness of language, and that articulates an assumption that literary form both reflects and emerges from its location in time, forming multiple associations within competing matrices of power and value.

The &NOW Festival of New Writing remains invested in the idea that aesthetics are political, cultural, and interpersonal, articulating convictions about how the world works, including the literary world. Unlike much literature sold for mass appeal, this is a type of literature that by its nature tends to keep generic and even disciplinary definitions unresolved.

Sometimes called experimental, conceptual, avant-garde, freaky, hybrid, surfiction, inaccessible, radical, slip-stream, neo-baroque, hyperfeminine, afro-futurist, postmodern, self-conscious, paradiscursive, gimmicky, and most especially at this moment in history "innovative," literary art is writing (most often made of words), whose aesthetic often shares an ethos with contemporary concerns and modes of both resistance and exhaustion. This is a literature that often takes its own medium as part of its subject matter and sometimes works against the dominant/dominating assumptions about what literature is and does by employing a variety of linguistic games, slippages, puzzles, parodies, annihilations, needs, historical disjunctions, discursive juxtapositions, visuals, appropriations, spatial play, extra-diagetic codes, and other rhetorical strategies and constraints. Literary art may draw attention to modes of performance, distribution, and reception—from the visual coding of the book and page—to other aspects of literary staging, including the author's identity matrices, as this influences how (and if) a text is perceived and received. Contemporary literary art is as invested in its own medium, materials, practices, and engagement with others as it is engaged with the rest of the world.

By bringing together all kinds of writers who are interested in literature as a contemporary art form, &NOW fosters friendships, love affairs, arguments, new writing projects, collaborations, fabulousness, (sometimes all of these at once), the polar opposite of these previous terms, and of course, the means of its own undoing.

(Source: conference website)

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Scott Rettberg
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