In 2011-13, I’m investigating questions about poetry, value, and accident, in the context of a SSHRC Insight Development Grant, intended to “enable the development of new research questions, as well as experimentation with new methods, theoretical approaches and/or ideas”. The questions and methods I’m exploring all have something to do with why contingency, or accident, might have value per se, and how and why poetry can be an embodiment of this. Among the topics I’m working through at the moment are:

  • Poetry and etymology; poets and their dictionaries; lexicography and intertextuality.
  • Poetry and society; poetry and politics; poetry and ethics; the poet-as-critic.
  • Digital humanities; working with large text corpora; computer assisted literary criticism; poetry and the Oxford English Dictionary.
  • The prose and poetry of Emily Dickinson, G. M. Hopkins, T. S. Eliot, Geoffrey Hill, Seamus Heaney, Paul Muldoon, Don Paterson, and a bunch of others.

I think of this site as a sort of open notebook, a collection of thoughts, observations, and questions.
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Content published at Poetry & Contingency is by David-Antoine Williams and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Please include the following information in any print citation:

Williams, David-Antoine. “[Post Title]”. Poetry & Contingency. [Date of post]. [Date accessed] ([page]). eg:

Williams, David-Antoine. “More Common: ‘Foot’ or ‘Etymologically’?”. Poetry & Contingency. 28 June 2012. Accessed 25 October 2012 (