Jazz and American Poetics: From The New American Poetry to Contemporary Verse

deadline for submissions: 
January 26, 2024
full name / name of organization: 
Charles Olson Society; Amiri Baraka Society
contact email: 

The Charles Olson Society and the Amiri Baraka Society will co-sponsor a session at the annual American Literature Association Conference, to be held in Chicago, May 23-26. This year, our two societies are pleased to announce a collaboration around the theme of jazz and its relation to the development of experimental American poetry. As Charles Olson once stated in a series of talks titled “On Black Mountain”: “Boy, there was no poetics. It was Charlie Parker. Literally, it was Charlie Parker.” Olson was thinking back to his 1950s correspondence with Robert Creeley, who consistently wrote to Olson about the importance of Parker’s bop rhythms for his own poetics. In the talk, Olson equates the entirety of the New American Poetry with just Charlie Parker. Similarly, the influence of jazz on Amiri Baraka’s poetics is well-known: from Blues People to Black Music to The Music and Digging, the relations between jazz (its offshoots), black politics and Baraka’s poetics have defined the potential of these cross-pollinations. For our panel at ALA, our societies are interested in abstracts that explore the influences of jazz on American poetry, broadly defined. However, we will especially welcome abstracts that deal with post-1945 poets who used jazz and its developments as inspiration for their own experimental endeavors. How did figures like Olson, Creeley, Robert Duncan, Frank O’Hara, Amiri Baraka, Bob Kaufman, Nathaniel Mackey, or others take up the rhythms and breakthroughs of jazz? How did these creative transformations lead to poetic forms that retained and developed keen senses of improvisation, rhythm, and musical progression?

Interested scholars and poets should send a 250 word abstract with a title to Joshua Hoeynck (jsh115@case.edu) and Jean-Philippe Marcoux (Jean-Philippe.Marcoux@lit.ulaval.ca) no later than January 26th. Please include your academic affiliation as well as a brief biographical note.