“Before and after Beat exploded: Essential studies on ruth weiss.”

deadline for submissions: 
April 12, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
Estíbaliz Encarnación-Pinedo and Thomas Antonic

“Before and after Beat exploded: Essential studies on ruth weiss.”

ruth weiss has worked for almost seven decades – and at 88 continues to work – with a
plurality of artistic forms: she has authored around twenty poetry books, performed and
recorded Jazz & Poetry, written more than ten plays, exhibited her water-color haiku
paintings, acted in films and even written and directed one. As such, weiss embodies the
artistic confluence of the 1950s and 1960s bohemia, breaking down, as Randy Roark
writes, “the barriers between word, film, song, painting, and theatre”. Despite her
extensive poetry career and very active participation in the West Coast buzzing artistic
community since the early 1950s, weiss has remained an essentially overlooked figure
in poetry history. This neglect might be representative – or shall we say a consequence
– of the overshadowing of female artists within the Beat Generation as “a marginalized
group within an always already marginalized bohemia” (Ronna C. Johnson).

Following her re-discovery in the course of Brenda Knight’s Women of the Beat
Generation (1996), weiss’s work has benefitted from a boost in Beat-related academic
and cultural activities in the last decades. Nevertheless, twenty years after the
publication of Knight’s groundbreaking anthology, and despite the rekindled interest in
the movement in general and in the work of women in particular, the Beat Generation
academic niche is still lacking in terms of monographs and individual studies dealing
with the work of female poets. Our book taps directly into this lacuna by providing upto-
date, comprehensive, critical analyses around one of the most prolific members of the
so-called “Beat women”: ruth weiss.

The collection of essays aims to include studies on all areas of weiss’s body of
work – poetry, film, theater, performance or painting – as well as contrastive or
comparative studies between ruth weiss’s poetics and aesthetics and that of other poets
and artists, both inside and outside the scope of the Beat Generation. In order to respond
to the existing cross-pollination between art forms in weiss’s oeuvre, this collection
maintains a multidisciplinary approach that the editors consider not only essential when
dealing with weiss’s poetry, but also a methodological necessity in the postmodern 21st
century. As the first collection on the every-day trendier ruth weiss, this collection will
be one of a kind, becoming a mandatory reading for all of those interested in the Beat
Generation in general and “Beat women” in particular. With this in mind, the scope of
this collection addresses:

- detailed analyses of individual collections of poetry, as well as the position of
ruth weiss as a Jazz & Poetry artist. In this regard, we are interested in historical
accounts documenting the early years of innovation of Jazz & Poetry and
weiss’s involvement in it, as well as her further development of the genre until

- weiss’s personal biography and its effect on her poetic and artistic vision.

- weiss’s involvement with the visual arts and the visual aspect in her poetry. In
this regard, the collection explores both weiss’s involvement with visual arts
such as painting or film and the influence of visual aesthetics in her poetry.

- weiss’s use of poetic language in written and oral forms. Attention is paid in this
respect to the performance aspect of weiss’s poetry, as well as to the way the
poet plays with, bends and re-invents language.

- weiss’s involvement in the Underground Film (The Brink, Ron Rice’s Flower
Thief and Steven Arnold’s films), other audiovisual projects (ruth weiss meets
her Prometheus [2007], Las Cuevas de Albion [2002]) – and the connections
between these and weiss’s poetry.

- weiss and the Beat Generation legacy: aesthetics, vision, and the issue of

- weiss and literary genre. This includes essays paying attention to the mixture of
genres in weiss’s oeuvre (lyric and narrative poem, travel journal, haiku,
theatrical play, etc.)

- adaptations of weiss’s work: Gerhard Samuel’s “Fortieth Day” – composed from
weiss’s Desert Journal – and theatrical adaptations of her plays.

- weiss’s collaborations and artistic network, which includes such diverse artists
as novelist Jack Kerouac, poets Madeline Gleason, Philip Lamantia, Bob
Kaufman, Anne Waldman, the painters Sutter Marin and Paul Blake, actor
Taylor Mead, director Steven Arnold, a number of musicians (e.g., Sonny
Wayne a.k.a. Sonny Nelson, Boo Pleasant, Doug Lynner), legendary stripper
and comedian Carol Doda, etc.

Essays will be due December 31, 2017 and should be between 5000 and 6000 words in
length. Interested contributors should send an abstract of 250–500 words with a short
bio or their CV by April 12, 2017 to one of the editors,

Estíbaliz Encarnación Pinedo: estibaliz.encarnacion@um.es

Thomas Antonic: thomas.antonic@univie.ac.at