Vancouver Poetry Conference 1963: Crossroads of the Canadian Avant-Garde

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Adam Beardsworth and Marc Thackray

Vancouver Poetry Conference 1963: Crossroads of the Canadian Avant-Garde

The 1963 Vancouver Poetry Conference has often been cited as a germinal moment in the development of a Canadian poetic avant-garde. Held at the University of British Columbia, the conference was actually a three-week credit course program taught primarily by a delegation of "New" American poets, including Charles Olson, Robert Creeley, Allen Ginsberg, Denise Levertov, and Philip Whalen. Each of these poets had recently appeared in Donald Allen's groundbreaking New American Poetry anthology (1960) which announced a movement towards the radical in the scope of American poetics. These American poets, along with the lone Canadian delegate Margaret Avison, brought their radical vision to a group of young student/poets whose subsequent works helped to shape and define postmodern and avant-garde Canadian poetry, including Fred Wah, Daphne (Buckle) Marlatt, Frank Davey, Phyllis Webb, George Bowering, Gladys Hindmarch. Also in attendance were the young Americans Clark Coolidge, and Michael Palmer, whose work has left an enduring impression on postmodern poetics. While the impact that the conference and its delegates had on these poets has been acknowledged in editorials, memoirs, essays, and the occasional critical study, to date a sustained critical study of the event and its implications for Canadian poetry has yet to be published.

The purpose of this collection is to address this critical gap by compiling essays that explore the significance of the Vancouver Poetry Conference in relation to the vibrant schools of postmodern Canadian and/or North American poetry that emerged in its aftermath. We are seeking critical essays that address any aspect of Canadian and/or North American poetry through considerations of the Vancouver Poetry Conference as a significant point of influence and inspiration. Essays topics may address, but are not limited to, the following topics:

-American/Canadian cross-fertilizations
-Projective Canadian poetics
-The New American Poets and new Canadian poetry
-Poetic colonization vs. poetic collectivism
-VPC63 and the Canadian little magazine
-Northern Black Mountains: Tish, Kootenay, and beyond
-From Vancouver to Buffalo: poetic institutionalizations
-Geography and ecology in postmodern Canadian poetry
-Margaret Avison as Canadian Representative
-Fred Wah and the audio archive
-Warren Tallman as impresario
-Vancouver as strategic/political locale
-VPC63 and MFA programs in Canada

We are currently accepting proposals of 500 words and/or completed papers of 8000-10000 words. Deadline for submissions is: 25 February 2010

Please address all inquiries to:

Adam Beardsworth
Assistant Professor, Department of English, Algoma University
Associate Professor, Department of English, Memorial University, Grenfell Campus