Saturday, June 05, 2010

ALA 2010 - San Francisco

The HEATSTRINGS Blog has been on a bit of a hiatus of late, due to family emergencies, but now we're back with a folio of photos from this year's conference of the American Literature Association in San Francisco.

One highpoint this year was the presentation of the Stephen Henderson Award to poet C.S.Giscombe by the African American Literature and Culture Society.

If you click on the title of this blog entry, you will be taken to a recording of the event. Following the introductions, Giscombe offers some reflections on his relationship to Henderson and then reads briefly from his own work.

My own paper came on the first day of the conference, on a panel dedicated to exploring the current state of criticism of African American poetry and poetics. My fellow panelists were Meta Jones and Keith Leonard, and we were ably chaired by Billy Joe Harris.

The following day I stepped in to chair a panel organized by John Whalen-Bridge that featured novelists Charles Johnson and Maxine Hong Kingston offering thoughts on Buddhism and their writing.

Another key moment was the session on Gertrude Stein featuring poets Juliana Spahr and Joan Retallack along with Marjorie Perloff. It was just after that panel closed that I received Charles Bernstein's email with the news that Leslie Scalapino had died the previous day. That news spread quietly through the conference and left all of us deeply saddened, though many of us shared memories of our time with Leslie and our deep appreciation for her works.

Next year's conference will be in Boston. For information on the African American Literature and Culture Society, follow this link to their web site. Also keep an eye on the ALA's web site for the call for papers for next year.

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