Monday, October 17, 2011

Out Back

This morning's visitor --

Sunday, October 16, 2011

MSA Buffalo III

There was no blood on the floor at the session on Postmodern Poetry: Fact or Fiction? -- though the next day's panel on "degrees of oppositional rhetoric" included a devastating critique of the promotional literature surrounding "conceptual poetries" from Richard Owens.

It's been so many years since I'd been on a yellow school bus that I was caught off guard by the "body fluid cleanup kit" I saw clamped to the front of the bus over the driver -- Maybe something like this would be useful in performance poetry venues --

My own panel, taking up the subject of how some infrequently read moderns read modernism (William S. Braithwaite, Alfred Kreymborg, etc.) held down an 8:30 AM slot, but had an attentive audience none-the-less. Other standouts for me included a roundtable on poetic innovation and Kaplan Harris's talk on Larry Eigner. I chaired a panel on Modernist Revivals and the Politics of Appropriation with presentations by Leif Sorensen, Todd Carmody and John Connor.

That evening I spent with the Buffalo cousins. While waiting for dinner I spotted a fellow who was really enjoying this summerish weather and had climbed with his glass of wine to a perch atop a building across the street from where I was dining. The cousins (thanks guys!) then took me to Buffalo's African American Cultural Center on Masten Avenue, where the Paul Robeson Theater was mounting a production. I had no idea what was in store for me till we arrived at the theater, when I discovered we were about to see "Cool Blues," a play based on the last days of Charlie Parker by Bill Harris. A few years back I had read a selection of Harris's plays and other writings in the process of a promotion review for Harris at Wayne State University. It was a pleasant surprise to find that the cousins had, without knowing they were doing so, taken me to a play with which I had an unanticipated personal connection.

Next - On to ASA --

Saturday, October 15, 2011

MSA in Buffalo 2011 Part II

Friday I rolled out of bed for a morning panel on "The Eros of Innovation," which sounds more a late night topic but was handled well by Jeanne Heuving, Rob Halpern and Robin Tremblay-McGaw. I spent the rest of the day in panels on "Race, Ownership & Censorship in Modernist Print Culture," "Modernism and the Black Bourgeoisie" and "Innovative Black Poetry." After an interlude in the Century Grill across the street, we trooped over to Hallwall's Contemporary Arts Center for a group poetry reading. A recording of that reading is available at the Heat Strings page of Penn Sound. Click here.

Friday, October 14, 2011


Thirteen years after the first Modernist Studies Association conference at Penn State, the tribes gathered again in Buffalo under the banner of "Structures of Innovation." My afternoon started out with Jed Rasula's panel on the poetics of metropolitan modernity, where Jed was joined by Tim Conley and Tim Harte. A lot of Tim for one panel. In part, the panel explored the works included in the new anthology Burning City: Poems of Metropolitan Modernity, a volume full of surprises and timely reminders.

The first plenary of the conference was given over to Michael Davidson's talk, "'Living in the same place . . . and different places': Cosmopoetics in and after Modernism," which began and ended with intriguing reflections on Davidson's experiences of Buffalo and San Diego.

We all piled into yellow school busses to go over to the Karpeles Manuscript Museum (which Steve McCaffery had told me about on a previous visit to Buffalo), where our reception unfolded against the backdrop of an exhibit of Oulipo memorabilia. Somehow the museum's display of the works of Conan-Doyle seemed appropriate in the Oulipian context -- I could well imagine Holmes giving himself to the contemplation of rigorous but forgotten forms.

Then, being gypsy scholars, we retired to the hotel bar.