CFP: The Long Poem after Modernism (9/15/05; NEMLA, 3/2/06-3/5/06)

full name / name of organization: 
Waddell, Bill
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Call for papers for the Northeast Modern Language Association meeting in Philadelphia, March 2 – 5, 2006.

The Long Poem after Modernism: "The light of a different necessity"

Once upon a time, it was clear what the long poem represented: it was a poet's supreme achievement, a synthesis of imaginative vision and finely honed craft expressly intended to define the career. As such, in the Anglo-American tradition, however much the form might change, as genre the long poem meant, arguably, much the same thing to, say, Michael Drayton as it did to Ezra Pound more than three hundred years later. But that conception rested in part on ideas of scope and comprehension, of coherence and stability, that have become more suspect. What have poets since the middle of the twentieth century made of the long poem, whether as continuous presentation or related sequence?

This panel aims to explore the place and role of poetry's most ambitious form in the culture of the last few decades. Its papers may take up a number of significant questions. One among them might be whether the long poem remains in fact poetry's most ambitious form: what have poets like Berryman or Ammons done, for example, albeit in very different ways, to "democratize" the long poem? How have gender and ethnicity—e.g. Rukeyser, Brooks, Levertov, Rich, Walcott, Jay Wright—affected poets' practice in the long poem or sequence? What shared sense of purpose, if any, animates the designs of writers of long poems in the absence of epic reach? Or, if epic purposes remain discernable, what form(s) have they taken? How have postmodern poets (or postmodern poetics) changed or added to the genre? What is there in the postmodern long poem or sequence that is not adumbrated at least in Pound's Cantos, "Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction," or "Paterson"?

For this panel, I'm interested in proposals relating to long poems or sequences written in English from any national or cultural background. The wider the range, the more constructive the discussion. Anyone is welcome to submit a proposal; accepted panelists must be or become members of NEMLA by November, 2005, in order to present at the conference.

Please send proposals (500 words, maximum) by September 15, 2005. E-mail submissions preferred, and attachments usually work fine.

William Waddell
English Department
St. John Fisher College
Rochester, NY 14618

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Received on Mon Jun 20 2005 - 10:47:32 EDT