"Luminously indiscreet": The Vision and Visibility of Gwendolyn Brooks, NEMLA, Sept. 30, April 7-10, 2011

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Northeast Modern Language Association
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NEMLA, April 7 – 10, 2011, New Brunswick, NJ

"'Luminously indiscreet': The Visibility and Vision of Gwendolyn Brooks"

In her mid-fifties, Gwendolyn Brooks began a statement about her plans for her own poetry with the playful and memorable phrase, "in my next future." Now ten years after her death, we are rounding into another of her next futures—as a floodlit icon of American poetry. This panel will undertake to outline what that future is beginning to look like, by reflecting on the range of achievement that forms its foundation.

In Brooks, we meet a passionate, populist, and Protean imagination joined to an acute intelligence and a near perfect ear, and informed by plenty of practical experience with the business of living. Readers may quite reasonably think of Brooks in many ways: as a successor to Langston Hughes as a chronicler of everyday Black American life; as an innovator in traditional metric forms; as arguably the premier poet of the Civil Rights movement; as a poet whose work contains a core of feminist critique that often goes unrecognized; as an enthusiastic elder supporter, following the Second Black Writers' Conference at Fisk in 1967, of the aims and idioms of the Black Arts Movement. For this panel, I'm interested in presentations focused on any of the various ways Brooks has helped us (her words, of course) "wizard a track through our own screaming weed."

Papers are welcome focusing on any phase or element of her long career. Please send 300-400 word abstracts by September 30 to Bill Waddell, St. John Fisher College, bwaddell@sjfc.edu.
Everyone is eligible to submit paper proposals for NEMLA's annual convention, but all presenters for 2011 must be or become members of the organization by December 1, 2010.