Following my four days of lecturing on African American poetry and its reception for the welcoming grad students at Central China Normal University, it was time for the second conference of the Chinese American Association for Poetry and Poetics. Marjorie Perloff and Charles Bernstein had been on hand to inaugurate the association at its first conference. This year's gathering reunited me with old friends Hank Lazer and Yunte Huang. Also there from the U.S. were Susan Stewart, Jerry Ward and others. Presenters came largely from China, Japan and Korea, but there were a few outliers from other parts of the globe as well.
I was serving as respondent on the opening plenary panel, and offered commentaries on papers by Susan Stewart, who used readings of Emily Dickinson to address questions of "over" and "under" interpreting, and Hank Lazer, who spoke of Oppen and Eigner and their potential for Chinese readers. That was followed by concurrent panel sessions back at the School of Foreign Languages. I made it to presentations on Pound, Williams, Stevens, Olson, Duncan, cummings, Post-WWII English Studies in Japan, and more general talks on modernist aesthetics and Objectivism.
We had a massive banquet back at the hotel, and then a group poetry reading at the conference center. Steve Tracy, who I had last seen two decades ago, was one of a trio of MCs and kicked things off with a stunning performance of poetry by Sterling Brown accompanied by Tracy's own blues harp. As someone who plays the instrument, I know what I'm listening to, and Steve Tracy is a consummate Blues musician. I gather from what the CCNU grad students were telling me that he is equally compelling as a classroom professor. Poetry readings were in English and Chinese, and the organizers had published the poems in the program so that we could all follow along.