Revisiting the Art of the (Post)Modern Poetry Collection, NeMLA 2016, Hartford: 17-20 March
White Buildings at 90: Revisiting the Art of the (Post)Modern Poetry Collection (Panel)
In 2016, scholars of twentieth-century poetry will mark the 90th anniversary of White Buildings, Hart Crane's only published collection of lyric poems (The Bridge qualifies as a modernist epic). Because Crane's lush aesthetics had for some time been heralded as an optimistic answer to the perceived pessimism or 'deadness' of T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land, White Buildings immediately garnered an unusual blend of popular attention and professional scrutiny, particularly for a debut collection (e.g. Edmund Wilson quipped that Crane's cryptic poetics unfurl "a great style, if there could be such a thing as a great style which was, not … so far as one can see, applied to any subject at all").
For scholars of Crane's slim oeuvre and tragically short life, White Buildings has retained its prominence as a singular poetry collection—that is, as an integrated book whose original drafts and design, textual sequence, inter-lyric aesthetics, and publication and reception history continue to inspire literary critics. Notably, however, scholarly attention to modernism's Little Magazines and to the aesthetic production of long poems has eclipsed research into the (post)modern poetry collection as a literary genre.
Taking the 90th anniversary of White Buildings as its point of departure, this panel aims to redress gaps in current scholarship on the textual, editorial, and aesthetic dynamics (e.g. lyric or poetic sequencing, inter-lyric tropes and syntax, echo and allusion, de Manian tensions between figuration and grammar, a given book's significance to its poet's oeuvre, etc.) of the (post)modern poetry collection, both as a framework for diverse poetic forms and as its very own experimental or plastic genre. With at least one spot reserved for commemorative research on White Buildings, this panel invites papers on canonical, marginal, and overlooked collections of modernist and postmodern poetry in English within and beyond American and British horizons.