Post-1945 Poetics and Empire

deadline for submissions: 
September 10, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
The Charles Olson Society
contact email: 

The Charles Olson Society will sponsor a session at the annual Louisville Conference on Literature and Culture Since 1900, to be held February 24-26, 2022. We seek abstracts concerning the relationship between avant-garde American poetics and empire, colonialism, and other national or international issues. These concerns are intimately related to Charles Olson’s poetics, given his choice of Gloucester, Massachusetts, as his subject for The Maximus Poems as well as his six-month stay in Yucatan during 1951. As Tzvetan Todorov has argued, the conquest of the Americas was made possible “at the cost of communication with the world.” In this light, how might the postwar North American poetry inaugurated by Olson’s projective verse essay (1950) participate in and challenge the communicative realities at the heart of empire? Post-colonial questions related to settlement, indigeneity, and the violence of colonization also appear in poetry by many other figures within and without Olson’s circle, such as Robert Creeley, Robert Duncan, Nathaniel Mackey, Nathaniel Tarn, and others. Experimental indigenous poets have also consistently addressed the fraught nature of nationhood and settler colonialism in North America, while contemporaries of Olson like José Lezama Lima and Aimé Césaire addressed colonialism, race, and language from the perspective of Latin America and the Caribbean. How have poets within these traditions dealt with the inheritance of empire and colonialism? How have they addressed the memories and traumas of genocide, as well as the on-going problems of race in North America that derive in part from those historical and communicative conditions? We are interested in these kinds of questions along with other research questions that broadly address how poetry tackles the difficult historical problems of race and colonialism.


Those interested should send a 250 word abstract to Joshua Hoeynck ( no later than September 10th. Please include your academic affiliation (if any) and a brief biographical note with your abstract.