Just returned from this year's meeting of the American Studies Association -- My only real complaint (aside from the perennial "not enough poetry"): too many of the panels on subjects of my greatest interest were packed into the first day. When I saw the theme of the conference, "Beyond the Logic of Debt," I did indeed think of Ed Dorn's great poem "On the Debt My Mother Owed to Sears and Roebuck." I heard no references to that poem over the weekend, but I heard much else of interest.
My own contribution was on a first day panel organized by Michael Bibby and chaired by Anna Everett on the topic of poetry in Washington, D.C. -- Michael gave a historically grounded talk on the Sojourn for Truth and Justice in D.C. in 1951 and the poem around which it centered. James Smethurst spoke on the career of my old friend Gaston Neal. My own talk concerned Gil Scott-Heron's D.C. years. I was up early for the day's first session, papers organized aorund the fiftieth anniversary of C.L.R, James's BEYOND A BOUNDARY.
My Thursday peaked with an all poetry panel that was very nearly a reunion of the forces that had gathered at Penn State just a few weeks ago for our conference on African American poetry. This panel was helmed by Evie Shockley.
Later in the weekend I reunited with good buddy Jeremy Glick -- we later had dinner with Alex Weheliye; much good conversation over the injera. There were two panels in conjunction with the special funk issue of American Studies, in which some of my work on William Parker, Amiri Baraka and Curtis Mayfield appears. Tony Bolden edited this issue and was on hand to steer the panels into port. Odd to be old enough to hear academic papers on Betty Mabry Davis --