CFP Robert Duncan Centennial Conference, Sorbonne, June 12-14 2019

Book Cover: Robert Duncan's The H.D. Book by University of California Press, 2011. Features a cover black and white photo of Robert Duncan on a beach with hair blowing in the wind.
Book Cover: Robert Duncan’s The H.D. Book by University of California Press, 2011. Features a cover black and white photo of Robert Duncan.

“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.

Conference keynotes:

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
* Duncan’s relationship/collaborations with Jess
* Duncan’s relationship to art and artists
* Duncan as artist
* Duncan and his library
* Duncan as critic
* Duncan’s relevance today
* New approaches to reading Duncan
Deadline: send a 250-300 word abstract to by September 1, 2018.
Notifications: by September 30, 2018.


Organizers: Hélène Aji (Université Paris Nanterre), Stephen Collis (Simon Fraser University), Xavier Kalck (Sorbonne Université), James Maynard (University at Buffalo), Clément Oudart (Sorbonne Université) 


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.