Dear Poets and Scholars,

I write to invite you participate in an online event celebrating negative capability’s bicentennial.

This December marks the 200th anniversary of John Keats’s penning of his formulation of “negative capability.” The Keats Letters Project (—if you don’t know it, do check it out!) will acknowledge this milestone in a variety of ways, but one is to have a number of contemporary poets and scholars identify a poem that they find particularly negatively capable, and then in the days leading up and around the anniversary, publish that poem along with a brief reflection / rationale by the one who selected it.

If you’d like to participate, please put into a Word document:

· The title of a poem you consider particularly negatively capable. We encourage you to identify a poem not in Keats’s oeuvre and by a poet other than you. However, if the concept of negative capability has been vital for you, of course feel free to select one of your own poems and reflect on negative capability’s effect on / presence in it.

· Information that might help the KLP publish that poem at the Keats Letters Project (KLP). (This might include publication information; information we can use to contact the poet; and/or links to available, accurate online versions of the poem.)

· A brief (500-word, maximum) bit of prose in which you tell KLP readers why you selected the poem you did: in what ways is this poem particularly negatively capable?

· A brief (2 or 3 sentences) author’s bio. As the KLP publishes electronically, links to author’s and publisher’s websites are encouraged.

Submit all of the above to If possible, please submit this material by Friday, November 17. (Sorry for the quick turn-around time, but use it as encouragement to in fact keep your reflection / rationale quite brief!) If you need some extra time, the final deadline for submission is Monday, December 11.

If you’re intrigued and plan to participate, briefly let me know—just reply to this email ( Please also feel free to share this invitation with other poets via email, listserv, etc. Of course if you have questions, let me know, as well.


Mike Theune (on behalf of the KLP editors)