"No Ideas but in Things": Influences on Black Mountain Poetry

deadline for submissions: 
July 14, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
The Charles Olson Society
contact email: 

The Charles Olson Society will host panels at the upcoming Re-Viewing Black Mountain College Conference, to be held in Asheville, North Carolina, from October 13th-15th. William Carlos Williams’ well-known like, “No Ideas but in Things,” fits well with the conference theme this year, which focuses on materiality. For the poets associated with Black Mountain College – Charles Olson, Robert Duncan, Robert Creeley, John Wieners, Ed Dorn, Denise Levertov, and others – preceding modernist poets were figures to follow and to oppose in various ways. From Ezra Pound to Williams, Gertrude Stein to James Joyce, the modernist generation’s experimental practices inspired Black Mountain poetry while also creating tension. We would welcome abstracts from three possible approaches: first, those that explore the tensions and influence of modernism on Black Mountain Poetry; second, papers that deal with the development of Black Mountain poetics before it advanced on the campus of Black Mountain College from 1951-1957. How did the early experiences of the Black Mountain poets shape and mold the attitudes and positions that figures like Olson, Duncan, Creeley, or Wieners brought to the campus? Papers might focus, for example, on Olson’s time working for the government or his educational experiences at Harvard; Duncan’s early associations with anarchism; Creeley’s time in New Hampshire, and so much more. Third, we would welcome papers on the influences of the other arts and artists at Black Mountain on poets such as Olson, Creeley, Duncan, Levertov, Wieners etc. How did the material of works (things) by dancers (Merce Cunningham and Katherine Litz), musicians (Stefan Wolpe and John Cage), painters/potters/weavers (the Albers, Fiore, Wildenhain...) become important parts of Black Mountain poetics?

Interested scholars and poets should send an abstract of 250 words to Joshua Hoeynck (jsh115@case.edu) and Jeffrey Gardiner (jeffreyjgardiner@gmail.com) no later than July 14th. Please include a biographical note as well as any academic affiliation.