Many critics have described Robinson Jeffers as the greatest poet of the American West. Whatever one’s response to such a claim may be, the answer may ultimately be less interesting than the underlying assumption that makes the claim possible in the first place: that there is such a thing as poetry of the West. Defining such a genre is not a simple matter. If it does exist, who is part of it? Poets who were raised in the west but left (Robert Frost)? Poets who moved to the west only well on in life (Czeslaw Milosz, W. S. Merwin)? Poets who address it thematically but never lived in the west (Longfellow, in “The Cross of Snow”)? Poets who lived in the west but do not address typical western themes (Yvor Winters, Charles Bukowski)? For that matter, where is the west? What are its boundaries, both geographically and imaginatively? What about the poets of Hawaii, western Canada and Mexico? What about Native American traditions? In what sense can a poetry be regional and yet transcend region? What is the history of the poetry of the West? What is its current situation, and what might its future look like?
The Robinson Jeffers Association invites proposals on any aspect of “Jeffers and the Poetry of the West,” from examinations of western themes in his work, to comparisons with other poets, writers and artists of the west, to definitional and theoretical concerns, and more. As usual, serious papers on other subjects and on the relation of Jeffers to other writers, artists and thinkers are also welcome.
Proposals should be relatively brief and must be postmarked by December 15, 2009. The conference has a number of different formats and includes opportunities for standard academic talks (15-20 mins.), longer plenary presentations, responses to longer talks, panel chairs, participation in discussion sections, and poetry readings.
Please send all queries and proposals both to David J. Rothman, President, at firstname.lastname@example.org, and Rob Kafka, Treasurer, at email@example.com.
To learn more about the Robinson Jeffers Association, please visit www.jeffers.org.
UCLA Extension, Rm 214
10995 LeConte Ave
Los Angeles CA 90024
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