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

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Adam Beardsworth

Vancouver Poetry Conference 1963: Crossroads of the Canadian Avant-Garde
Marc Thackray and Adam Beardsworth, Editors

The 1963 Vancouver Poetry Conference was a germinal moment in the development of the Canadian poetic avant-garde. Held at the University of British Columbia, the conference was actually a three-week credit course taught by a delegation of "New" American poets that included Charles Olson, Robert Creeley, Robert Duncan, 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 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 have helped shape postmodern and avant-garde Canadian poetry. Those in attendance included Fred Wah, Daphne (Buckle) Marlatt, George Bowering, and Gladys Hindmarch, as well as the young American poets Clark Coolidge and Michael Palmer. While the impact that the conference and its delegates had on these writers has been acknowledged in editorials, conferences, memoirs, essays, and the occasional article, 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 the gap in criticism surrounding the Vancouver Poetry Conference by compiling essays that explore its significance in relation to the vibrant schools of postmodern Canadian and/or North American poetry that emerged in its aftermath. As we await the forthcoming publication of the Vancouver Poetry Conference transcripts, and in the wake of Robert McTavish's recent documentary The Line has Shattered, it appears that the time is ripe for a critical investigation of the prolonged impact of this event on contemporary poetry. 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, inspiration, or contestation. We are also seeking memoirs by poets and essayists who participated in the conference, or whose work was directly influenced by its impact on subsequent trends and schools in Canadian poetics. At this point we are seeking essay proposals of approximately 750 words. Proposals 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
-Black Mountain North: 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
-New Canadian poets versus the Canadian literati
-Reactions from Toronto, Montreal
-Phyllis Webb and VPC '63
-Lyric subjectivities in Canadian poetry
-Poetry and theory post VPC '63

We are currently accepting proposals of approximately 750. Deadline for submissions is October 1, 2011.
Please address all inquiries to:

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