“Passages”: The Robert Duncan Centennial Conference at the Sorbonne Université, Paris, June 12-14 2019, welcomes papers on the H.D./Duncan connection (The H.D. Book, the correspondence, etc.) among many other possible topics. Anyone who remembers the 2013 H.D. and Modernity Conference in Paris will remember many of these conference organizers as well.
Stephen Fredman Miriam Nichols Michael Palmer
“I am speaking now of the Dream in which America sleeps, the New World, moaning, floundering, in three hundred years of invasions, our own history out of Europe and enslaved Africa.”—Robert Duncan, Ground Work
American poet Robert Duncan would be turning 100 in January 2019. With his direct address to his contemporaries and the broad forces and structures—psychological, political, cosmological—at work in the world, and with his aspiration to write a holistic “grand collage” sweeping up all possible inputs to his poetry, it could be argued that we need Duncan’s work and his vision now more than ever.
Duncan’s work on a poetry and poetics of “passages,” in particular, remains key. The “Passages” poems spatialize poetry as an “area of composition,” embrace discontinuity and incompletion (they remain part of a work always “larger than the book in which they appear”) and seek intertextual and psycho-social connection at every moment of their unfolding.
Radically open, Duncan’s work thus calls for re-engagement—for the following of new connecting passages through and out of his work, for drawing new poetic passages from a resource that remains inexhaustibly “beyond.” This is all the more important since Duncan’s creative heterodoxy eschews habitual notions of genealogy or tradition. Because his is a rare case of great relevance which does not easily translate into lineage, it seems most appropriate that one should now turn to Duncan, standing as we are today Before the War and In the Dark, and listen to the cadence of his verse anew.
The Paris Conference, as a centennial celebration of Robert Duncan’s works, invites proposals from scholars and poets. Possible topics may include:
* Responses to recent publications of note, such as The Collected Writings of Robert Duncan series published by University of California Press: The H.D. Book (ed. Michael Boughn and Victor Coleman, 2011), Collected Early Poems and Plays (ed. Peter Quartermain, 2012), Collected Later Poems and Plays (ed. Peter Quartermain, 2014), Collected Essays and Other Prose (ed. James Maynard, 2014); but also A Poet’s Mind: Collected Interviews with Robert Duncan 1960-1985 (North Atlantic Books, 2012), Imagining Persons: Robert Duncan’s Essays on Charles Olson (ed. Robert J. Bertholf and Dale M. Smith, UNMP, 2017), An Open Map: The Correspondence of Robert Duncan and Charles Olson (ed. Robert J. Bertholf and Dale M. Smith, UNMP, 2017)
* Manuscripts and archives: the Robert Duncan Papers at the University of California, Berkeley and the University at Buffalo
* Duncan’s published and unpublished correspondences: epistolary relations as poetics
* Duncan’s relations with the Berkeley and the San Francisco Renaissance poets (Jack Spicer, Robin Blaser, among others), the Black Mountain poets (Charles Olson, Robert Creeley, among others), H.D., Ezra Pound, Louis Zukofsky, Denise Levertov, but also with the new generations (e.g. the Language poets, Ron Silliman, Susan Howe, Michael Palmer, Nathaniel Mackey, Rachel Blau DuPlessis, Stephen Collis), to name only a few.
* War, America, Empire, order, and strife
* Vocation and calling: Duncan on the role of poetry and the poet
* Duncan’s relationship with the French language, Francophone poets and translators
* Duncan and the poetry wars: polemics and poetics in postwar American poetry
* American poetry after Duncan: questions of influence
* The history of Duncan’s reception
* Duncan as teacher (San Francisco State University Poetry Center, Black Mountain College, University at Buffalo, New College, etc.), his lectures, workshops, readings
* Approaches to teaching Duncan
* Duncan’s queer legacy and the question of gender
This essay spans H.D.’s poetry and prose, from Trilogy and By Avon River to The Sword Went Out to Sea, Helen in Egypt, Vale Ave, Hirslanden Notebooks, and Hermetic Definition. Hogue combines disability studies and feminist poetics to explore the later years of H.D.’s career.
This panel seeks to examine graphic eroticism in its myriad modernist forms. From the graphically risque or taboo to the textual representations of non-normative sex and sexuality in poetry and prose, modernist women writers often embedded eroticism within their literary experiments. With H.D., for instance, her letters describe trips to erotica shops in Vienna to find pornographic photos for Bryher and the pressure she received from publishers to write a tell-all memoir about her relationship with Ezra Pound and other male modernists, while her prose and poetry codify seduction and sexual encounters in less literal, though no less “graphic” ways. This panel encourages explorations of the relationship between the explicit, the erotic, and the graphic in the queer, straight, and mixed networks of women modernists. We welcome papers that interrogate modernist eroticism through a women-centered lens and that move past critical models of “romantic thralldom” or gendered revision in their approaches to gender, sex, and sexuality.
The H.D. International Society will again be sponsoring a panel at the American Literature Association conference, May 24-27, 2018, at the Hyatt Regency in San Francisco, CA. The call for paper proposals is open ended, although projects working with some aspect of H.D.’s later writing or new approaches to teaching H.D. would be particularly welcome given the recent publications of H.D. editions and their scholarly framings. Please send a brief paper proposal (250 words) along with a short biography/CV to Celena Kusch, email@example.com, no later than January 25, 2018.
Michael Boughn’s new poetry collection, Hermetic Divagations – After H.D. (Swimmers Group, 2017) embraces the poetic method of H.D.’s Hermetic Definitions to arrive at a wholly new reflection on the many questions H.D. posed about war, love, spirituality, and survival–questions that retain their relevance for us today. Michael Boughn is the author of several books of poetry, including Cosmogrophia: A Post-Lucretian Faux Micro Epic (2010), which was nominated for the Governor General Award.
“Michael Boughn’s Hermetic Divagations is a luminous book of gratitude and persistence. Boughn weaves H.D.’s traditions, motifs and words in his own poised lines, examining a resonant image hoard—flame, angel, amber, lotus, worm, and owl, and thereupon continually re-discovering female figures emanating poise, eros and blessing amid confusion and depredation. “Then she is there” is a repeated realization. The work is at once a poetics of rumination evoking immanent presence and a meditation on the acts of war and rancor that harass grace. Hermetic Divagations is a serious and lucid reworking of questions of civilization where “dung and myrrh // mingle with air and fear,” yet where one persists in seeking the “hidden entrance in a world // of restricted visibility.” – Rachel Blau DuPlessis
Amy E. Elkins of Macalester College published “A Stitch in Time: H.D.’s Craft Modernism as Transhistoric Repair” in The Space Between: Literature and Culture 1914-1945, vol. 12, no. 6 (2016).Elkins’s abstract notes that her “essay presents, for the first time, an archive of H.D.’s needlework and demonstrates its relationship to her literary craft.” The essay is filled with rich images of H.D.’s embroidery, and Elkins links that work to psychological strategies of coping and survival in the wake of World War I.
This month’s Modernism/modernity Print Plus platform features “Mind the Gap! Modernism and Feminist Praxis.” Articles by Madelyn Detloff, Anne Fernald, Rowena Kennedy-Epstein, Cherene Sherrard-Johnson, and Ewa Ziarek take up the issue from a range of perspectives. Kennedy-Epstein’s “The Spirit of Revolt: Women Writers, Archives and the Cold War” begins with a curricular debate about the role and literary heft of H.D. in modernist studies today. Her defense of H.D. and other modernist women writers is wide-ranging and offers a compelling argument for ensuring that women writers feature prominently in the literary landscape.
We invite paper proposals for a panel the H.D. International Society is organizing at the Louisville Conference on Literature and Culture since 1900, February 22-24, 2018. What we have said before about the conference remains true, that it is a
very welcoming and invigorating conference that features research presentations and work by creative writers. It is hosted yearly by the University of Louisville in Louisville, KY and sustained by the organizing efforts of Alan Golding. For more information, please see the attached CFP from the conference organizers and note that the confirmed keynote speakers for 2018 are terrific, yet again: M. NourbeSe Philip, Dominic Pettman, and Brent Hayes Edwards. For more information on the conference, visit http://www.thelouisvilleconference.com/.
The call for papers for our panel is open: we are happy to consider work attending to any aspect of H.D. and/or her circle as we field a cohesive panel.
Please send 250 word abstracts and a brief bio to Rebecca Walsh, firstname.lastname@example.org, by Wednesday, September 6. Feel fee to get in touch with any questions.
Lara Vetter’s fascinating treatment of H.D.’s late prose in the political context of post-World War II has been released by UP Florida. Miranda Hickman notes that Vetter’s book demonstrates how H.D.’s late prose contributes to “politically attuned cultural work” and that Vetter “astutely counters longstanding claims about H.D.’s escapism.”