Mid-20th-Century American Poetry and the Question of Beauty (12/12/14; 5/21-24/15, ALA Boston)

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The Charles Olson Society
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"Rigor of beauty is the quest," writes Williams in his preface to "Paterson." "But how will you find beauty when it is locked in the mind past all remonstrance?" For the 2015 ALA conference in Boston, the Charles Olson Society invites proposals on Beauty and mid-twentieth-century American poetry. Although the 1950s are perhaps best known for the rise of the Beats, the Confessionals, and the Black Mountain poets, these were also the years of Adrienne Rich's formalist work ("Aunt Jennifer's Tigers"), as well as some of the best work of Richard Wilbur, Theodore Roethke, and other strong poets working with traditional forms. Amid such very different types of poetry, the question of what we mean by the beautiful, or by an engagement with the aesthetic, arises quite naturally. Were poets like Olson rejecting the beautiful in favor of the authentic, or the genuine, or the merely audacious? Does beauty remain a primary criterion for poetry in this period, or is it displaced by other criteria? How were the poets of this period re-imagining the beautiful? Papers may focus on individual poets and/or poems, or on mid-century American poetry or questions of aesthetics more broadly. Proposals of no more than 250 words should be sent to G. Grieve-Carlson at grieveca@lvc.edu by December 12, 2014. Please include your name, institutional affiliation (if any), e-mail address, and AV requirements (if any).