CALL FOR PAPERS FOR A SYMPOSIUM ON WILLIAM BRONK
Papers are being sought for a symposium on the life and work of William Bronk (1918-1999).
The symposium will be held in New York City in spring 2012, to coincide with the appearance of Bursts of Light: The Collected Later Poems of William Bronk.
Papers from the conference will be the basis for a collection of essays to be published by Talisman House.
The talks and readings making up the symposium will be recorded and then streamed on the Internet from a dedicated website.
While it is expected that established poets and scholars will take part in this symposium, younger poets, critics and scholars are very strongly encouraged to make presentations. How William Bronk can be read in our current time is a concern of this event.
ABSTRACTS OF 1-2 PAGES SHOULD BE SENT TO:
Edward Foster, TalismanEd@aol.com
Burt Kimmelman, Kimmelman@njit.edu.
ABOUT WILLIAM BRONK
William Bronk was one of the foremost poets of the twentieth century. His work has been praised widely. The attention is remarkable given that he spent most of his life secluded in Hudson Falls, New York and abjuring literary politics, often turning down requests for readings and the like. Nevertheless, he did receive the American Book Award (the year before it became the National Book Award) and the Lannan Prize; and he did read an occasional poem at Governor Mario Cuomo's first inauguration. The Governor's invitation came not merely because the Borough of the Bronx was named after Bronk’s ancestor who farmed a good deal of that land.
In the 1970s and 1980s two prominent scholarly journals devoted entire issues to discussions of Bronk’s poetry and essays. In 1998 the first critical book on Bronk appeared, which was then followed by another two years later, and more since then, all by prominent scholars of American poetry. Major essays on Bronk continue to appear regularly in journals.
William Bronk’s work is known for its evocations of the New York landscape, as well as for its meditations on the ancient Incan and Mayan cultures, which were prompted by his travels through Latin America. Yet Bronk is most known, and admired, for his inquiries into the nature of reality and knowing. Paul Auster once wrote of his work (in the Saturday Review, once Bronk had begun to attract a lot of attention): "Bronk's poetry stands as an eloquent and often beautiful attack on all our assumptions, a provocation, a monument to the questioning mind."
The value of Bronk’s work is still well known among older poets and scholars, yet there is a profound need for a younger readership. Early on, Bronk's poems appeared in the now famous Black Mountain Review and Origin magazines, and he was an important part of the midcentury avant-garde that was memorialized in the 1960 anthology The New American Poetry. Yet, as David Clippinger’s book on Bronk documents, he was removed from the anthology at the eleventh hour because its editor, Donald Allen, couldn’t fit his work into any of the “schools” of poetry he had concocted for the publication. Nevertheless, Bronk is, arguably, key to our understanding of American letters, and particularly the post-World War II new poetry and thought. Cid Corman, a prolific poet and the editor of Origin, acknowledged Bronk as being " the thread that binds all the issues together" (quoted from The Gist of Origin). The fact that Bronk was the final poet cut from Donald Allen's anthology, and that Bronk does not appear in the Norton or other widely used anthologies today, compels this symposium as a way to put Bronk back before the eyes of a broader readership, and a conference on his work and life, at this time, might ultimately address a reassessment of the twentieth-century literary canon.
Praise for the work of William Bronk:
“A work that demands to be read.” —Saturday Review • “A brilliant poetry.” —George Oppen (winner of the Pulitzer Prize) • “One of our finest . . . poets.” —The New York Times Book Review • “A poet of great distinction.” —Small Press Review • “Bronk is an acquired taste. I recommend you acquire it.” —Library Journal • “He is brilliant.” —Southwest Review •