Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Louisville Conference on Literature and Culture after 1900 -- Feb. 2018

Back to Louisville, to speak of Amiri Baraka once again, to meet up with old friends, to hear poets and scholars I've only read without meeting in the past, to argue pork pie hats and line breaks . . .

Proof of penguins was available -- M. NourbeSe Philip befriended one of them.

The chief creative keynote this year was Philip's performance from Zong! This was already an aural performance back when she was delivering it from behind a podium.  Over the years it has evolved into a theater-roaming manifestation.

I've been reading Nathaniel Tarn since I was around 19 -- as he nears 80 I hear him at last -- Reading with Janet Rodney from Alashka, now back in print.

The closing keynote, by Brent Hayes Edwards, brought us back to the era of the Black Artists Group of Saint Louis, and their seldom seen scene film Sweet Willie Rollbar's Orientation. In his book BAG: Point from which Creation Begins, Benjamin Looker argued that the film "aimed for a contrast with the ideological and aesthetic severity of much Black Arts production."  "Much" is the key here.  There was plenty of humor amidst the severity, witness Baraka's Jello

Recommended music for those of you interested: Oliver Lake's Ntu -- The Point from which Creation Begins.

But then the storms came. Nathaniel Mackey, Jeanne Heuving and I set out with Tyrone Williams for the conference-closing party at Alan Golding's house that we'd all looked forward to, but coming to streets with new rivers flowing through their intersections we turned back to the hotel, where we met up with gnostics, experts in hat manufacture and refugee poets.