Thursday, February 28, 2008
friday started off with a heavy-duty panel on music and mysticism in nate mackey's work, four good papers (norman on poet/speaker as shaman, robert on music esp as treated by jankelevich in music of the ineffable, joe on sufism, and dylan on the latest installment of broken bottle)and not a lot of time to discuss afterwards (or rather lots of interesting discussion that could not be accommodated in the space we had), and then it was off to the panel that my paper was being added into: lynn k on ecopoetics (and specifically on srikanth reddy, a cal press poet new to me), me on coolidge, and michael b on slam and langpo. lunch was at the food court in the student center, big crowded tables with all the usual suspects, and a belated arrival of carla b whom i was delighted to see and had not seen in again probably 8 years (photo courtesy of laura h).
then into the afternoon sessions, and the carla harryman panel organized by laura h and went on in spite of some tech difficulties. good papers, and ran into bonnie there who's now in colorado and whom i first met in baltimore this summer. the papers were good -- christine's more reader-response, carla b's more theoretical, laura's more focused on performance -- and then back to the dudes and a ronald johnson panel that was put together in conjunction with the forthcoming life and works volume from the NPF. very interesting to get a sense of where RJ scholarship stands at present (joel b), a coming-of-age memoire from peter o'l, anagrams by mark s, and a teaching experiment by eric s.
the keynote reading by mackey followed, featuring excerpts from bass cathedral (the latest installment of the epistolary life-in-jazz from a broken bottle traces of perfume still emanate as well as from the latest poetry collection, splay anthem. scott and i sped back to the hotel right after, stopping along the way for some provisions and hanging out in the room a bit talking about life, scholarship, pedagogy etc before join the cash bar at the seelbach shortly before the conference dinner. sat with bonnie and jill among others, the meal was distinctly mediocre, and everyone retired to the seelbach bar afterwards: a great, old, wooded place with a fine selection of bourbon (too sweet for me so i had rye instead) and an excellent house jazz trio (keys/vibes, bass, drums) amidst which there was much mingling -- barry w, joel l, alan g, aldon n, laura h, megan s, and finally tyrone w after most others had called it a night.
saturday morning i jumped panels, first to hear scott's paper on stein and benjamin -- who knew that she described something very much like "aura" in the gradual making of the making of americans? (i think that's the text) -- and then to a panel kristen p had organized. i missed kristen's paper on the helen adam archives in order to hear scott's (but got part of the scoop from her: some 50 boxes of adam's books and MSS discovered in a NYC warehouse!) and stephen c was unable to give his talk on oppen, but in his place had a very interesting paper that had been postponed due to weather on thursday (was actually scheduled to be in the same panel as me): jessica l wrote on a deaf poet, josephine dickinson and the cognitive aspect of sound/image processing. margaret k presented some archival research on laura riding's editorial/collaborative work on the poetry of robert graves.
then it was off to the panel i was chairing on "black arts: mackey, baraka, and music" with excellent papers all around by amy h (collaboartion as a way of contesting autho/ownership), luke h (music and/in poetics) and joel l (theory and anethics). lively discussion ensued. scott and i took a jaunt in the honda immediately after this panel, just to get out, stretch the legs, get some air and take in some local color on bardstown road, where a quick trip into ear-x-tacy where i found a few things, very appropriate for all the music we were disussing in such scholarly fashion: marion brown's 1977 LP la placita: live in willisau (not to my knowledge reissued on CD) and dewey redman's musics also from the late 1970s (on prestige CD reissue).
then back to campus for critical keynote by aldon l, once again showing how the best scholarship is the kind that teaches us something we did not know before, and al's work always does this. who knew that russell atkins, a black small press poet and publisher in cleveland, was writing theoretical articles using the term "deconstruction" in a way not altogether dissimilar from derrida, in his own magazine the free lance in the mid 1950s? who knew? "now we know." and now that we know, what do we do with this knowledge? it might not simply be accommodating the knowledge of atkins to our already-existing understanding of (white european) deconstruction but, more complexly, an entire rethinking of deconstruction along the lines and terms proposed by atkins. hard work, since the texts are largely unavailable, and no one is going to rewrite the OED and put atkins' use of the term ahead of derrida's translator's in the chronology.
by this time bill h had roughly arrived from oxford ohio, satchelfull of slack buddha chapbooks in tow. he and scott and i met in the seelbach bar, went back to the room to sort out all the poetry goods, and then found our way to saffron, a fantastic persian restaurant where we had delectable spinach and eggplant (separate) appetizers (pureed in mildly spice yogurt sauce) and then braised lamb and chicken stew, also delicious. then it was to the annual post-conference party at alan g's house, in many ways the capstone event of the conference. plenty of mingling, celebrating and, in a newish tradition now apparently in its second year, a quick three-minutes-a-piece reading by any and all poets present. great to hear quick shots from everybody. i was able to plus slack buddha via my new chap, and bill actually sold enough chaps to cover his expenses and then some. (thanks to all who enjoyed and bought!)
we were a bit noisy and rowdy on return to the hotel, and scott had to dash off in the early morning for his flight back to the great white north. bill and i arose later and found a down-home brunch buffet at cunningham's just down the street. it was the only way to get breakfast food there, which was fine: i was more than eager to follow up a plate of eggs, sausage, bacon, biscuit and gravy with a plate of roast beef, roast pork, gravy, stuffing, mac & cheese & southern green beans. (i'm sure my arteries were just as eager). light flurries fell, unusual for the good folks of louisville, and bill and i made our way a half price books in the louisville suburbs wher ei foisted all kinds of goodies on bill while limitin myself to a purchase that excites me greatly, a signed hardbound copy ($7) of a book i already own in paperback and love, john godfrey's dabble.
more pix as/if they become available (my own new digital camera still intimidates me and so i did not bring it with...)
(view the full program in PDF here.)