Sunday, January 16, 2011

MLA 2011 Part II

. . . though it did seem at times that if you wanted to be part of the discussions around poetry and poetics you either had to get up early or stay late. The panel on historical poetics proved that a fair number of people are wlling to roll out of bed early in the morning to argue metrics -- I had fun --
Other early risers attending the panel Evie Shockley organized on the poetry of Afaa Michael Weaver got the additional surprise of hearing a short reading by Weaver. Back when he was just Michael, he published a poetry mag out of Baltimore titled Blind Alleys, where the then-still-student me found himself published alongside Lucille Clifton. In conversation with Shockley after the panel I was musing that one of the great understudied topics of recent literary hitsory is the central role played by the D.C./Baltimore area in the poetry of the late 1960s through the early 80s. (The story since then needs attention too, but that's another chorus.)
In the last set of late afternoon sessions I chaired a Poetry Division panel on Jazz and Poetry, with presentations by Patrick Pritchett, Meta Jones and Michael New. As you can see from the photos, this was among the more thought-provoking sessions.

You had to walk a long time and leave a trail of bread crumbs so you could find your way back if you wanted to get to the session on poet Dennis Brutus, which was enlivened by the sounds of the motorcycle expo going on just beyond the window behind the speakers.

and then we were all off to the last reception . . . .

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