Monday, November 09, 2009


The first panel I got to at this year's ASA presented me with a pleasant surprise. I walked into the room to find poets Brenda Marie Osbey and Kalamu ya Salaam taking their positions at the podium. Admittedly this would have been less of a surprise had I inspected the conference program before leaving home. (It's no longer mailed out in hard copy, and frankly, I hadn't thought to donwload it to my Kindle.)

The poetic occasion was a special session on post-Katrina arts in New Orleans. A post-Katrina baby was on hand to add his verse. Later I was talking with Meta Jones about the paucity of poetry at ASA. Meta was there as part of a panel on Hip Hop Poetics. I went off to dinner with that group after their session, asserting my position as senior citizen who had in fact been listening to the radio when the first raps came across the air waves.

Other panels I got to this year included a superb session on the Canadian/Caribbean axis. Having just come from Ottawa, where I spent much time in conversation with David Austin, it was good to see scholars in the USA taking up the important history of Caribbean activism in Canada and the multitude of connections to US social and arts movements. That panel also featured Carter Mathes on Peter Tosh, and Jeremy Glick speaking on C.L.R. James's play featuring a performance by Paul Robeson. There was a quite good session on Soul, in the course of which Gayle Wald gave a talk on the television show "Soul" that aired for several years on PBS back in the years when the system featured lots of exciting original programs and had not yet resorted to 26 part adaptations of Trollope novels. At the panel chaired by Wahneema Lubianao, Evie Shockley, who had just been at Penn State's novel conference, spoke on the subject of Anne Spencer's poetry. That was also the panel where I learned of Sam Milai's work as an editorial cartoonist for the Pittsburgh Courier. Visit this link for an overview of Milai's work.

At the dawn session on Sunday I joined an avid band of bitter enders for a discussion of developments in digital humanities.

It was just as well I was in a news-free zone and didn't hear what the Democrats were doing to our health care reform.

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