This year's meeting of the Association for the Study of Arts of the Present rolled into Detroit, hosted by Wayne State University, earlier this month. It's a small conference, one that still needs to cast its nets more widely to achieve diversity, but it's an increasingly attractive venue for exploring interdisciplinary arts of recent decades. First up for me was a panel on Robert Hayden and Michael Harper, featuring papers by Janice Harrington, Frank Rashid and Brian McHale.
The continuing Gil Scott-Heron project brought me together with Michael New and Tyrone Williams. My own presentation was built around Gil's song "We Almost Lost Detroit This Time." There was a great evening poetry reading, organized by Barrett Watten and hosted by Tyrone Williams, convened, appropriately enough, at the Welcome Center. The poets, a troupe of whom represented Occupy Oakland, included Brian Ang, David Lau, Sara Larsen, Rob Halpern, Uljana Wolf and Jonathan Stalling.
ASAP alternates between meetings in the U.S. and conferences overseas. ASAP 6 will convene in Shanghai.
I might note the strong representation of Penn State literature people among the presenters, clearly one of the largest cohorts at the Detroit conference, with critical work ranging from Teju Cole's Open City to Dalkey Archive and beyond.