Poet Tom Pickard will be visiting the NYU English Department/Contemporary Literature Series under the auspices of my MA Proseminar ENGL-GA 2980-001: Introduction to Advanced Literary Study. In this course, students pursue intensively these questions: What is Literature? Why study “it”? How study “it”? Does “literature” exist? How has it been, how is it now, and how might it yet be studied, imagined, engaged, and/or critiqued? And how might advanced literary study be inflected by other advanced studies—of, for example, media history and ecology, book history, historiography, the human sciences (linguistics, psychoanalysis, anthropology)?

This course offers, then, a series of intense experimental gambits. Tom Pickard’s work, including The Ballad of Jamie Allan, stands as one of our crucial experimental gambits in poiesis, combining as it does documentary-based work, archival research, and a long tradition of lyric. Pickard’s book revives and explores the figure of Jamie Allan, 18th C. piper and renowned outlaw who haunted the English and Scottish borders. Both an homage to Allan and a stretching of the borders of genre, this book is one of our core “cases” for literary-historical analysis, and pleasure. Pickard’s work has been previously assigned as well in several Senior Seminars (“Poetry Unbound”) and graduate seminars, and guests from those classes, as well as CLS fellows, will also attend his presentation on Tuesday, November 12th.

--Prof. Maureen McLane (ENGL-GA 2980-001: MA Proseminar: Introduction to Advanced Literary Study)


Tom Pickard is an English poet (originally hailing from Newcastle), with a long career as a filmmaker and general adventurer as well as remarkable lyric poet. He has had a brilliant recent decade, publishing (among other things) The Ballad of Jamie Allan (Flood Editions, 2007), a Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry; this project was also the basis for a folk opera by composer John Harle. Pickard is currently assembling his collected poems for Carcanet. His work is delicate yet fierce, full of song, politics, sex, birds, and weather. You can learn more about him here. Some of his recent poems have appeared in Poetry: "Lark and Merlin"; "After a row".