The May Swenson Centenary Panel at NeMLA in Boston, March 21-24

full name / name of organization: 
Northeast Modern Language Association

The year 2013 marks the hundredth anniversary of the birth of American poet May Swenson, who has been recognized as one of the greatest poets of the Twentieth-Century by critic Harold Bloom among other poets and scholars. In her lifetime, Swenson penned ten collections of poetry along with several plays and short stories, received artistic fellowships from the Guggenheim and MacArthur foundations, and served as chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 1980 to 1989, the year she died.

The daughter of Swedish immigrants Swenson began her life in Logan, Utah, leaving in 1936 to enter the literary scene of New York City at the age of twenty-three. Despite this move, the landscape of her childhood remained a significant part of her poetry. Swenson's work endures in its critical appeal as recent scholars have examined her work's attention to the relationship between humans and nature, its consistent formal and poetic innovation, its consideration of spirituality and the human/animal body, and its subtle explorations of her lesbian identity.

This panel encourages papers that elucidate the contemporary significance of Swenson's work to the queer literary canon, her contributions to poetic thought on form and style, her relationships with other poets, and her negotiation of queer identity, space, nature, and memory in poetry. Creative submissions reflecting upon Swenson's life and work will also be considered.

Abstracts of 200-300 words should be submitted to by Sunday Sept. 30.