Dorothy Wang: Amiri Baraka, Ed Dorn, and Revisionist Narratives of American...
Amiri Baraka (1934-2014) and Edward Dorn (1929-1999), two major American poets, were linked by both personal and professional bonds. The period of their most intense friendship, 1959–1965, occurred amidst various poetic movements. While Baraka eventually broke from the downtown NYC white avant-garde poetry scene to start the Black Arts movement, the two continued to share progressive politics. Both wrote formally innovative poetry that commented on American society, capitalism, and politics, yet today, their reception by poetry scholars has been quite divergent. This talk will explore the possible factors—primarily, race—that account for their different positionings in American literary history.
Dorothy Wang is an Associate Professor in the American Studies Program and Faculty Affiliate in the English Department at Williams College. She is the author of Thinking Its Presence: Form, Race, and Subjectivity in Contemporary Asian American Poetry (Stanford University Press, 2013), which won the Association for Asian American Studies' 2016 award for best book of literary criticism and Honorable Mention in the first annual Pegasus Award for Poetry Criticism given by the Poetry Foundation. Thinking Its Presence was also listed as one of "The Books We Loved in 2016" by The New Yorker magazine. In 2014, the first conference on race and creative writing held in the United States was named after the book and convened at the University of Montana.
In March 2015, Wang curated an online symposium “Race and the Poetic Avant-Garde” in Boston Review, which, along with her book, helped to spark debates on race and poetry, particularly avant-garde poetry. That summer, she gave the Leslie Scalapino Lecture in Innovative Poetry at Naropa University's Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. Her new project is entitled “’Things Unintelligible, Yet Understood’: Race and the Genealogies of American Poetics,” which will look comparatively at the work of African American, Asian American, Latina/o, Native American and white poets in thinking about foundational poetic concepts.
(Photo credits: Noah K. Murray (Baraka), Poetry Project (Dorn), Art Evans (Wang))
This FREE event is presented by the Department of African American and African Studies in conjunction with the Postcolonial Questions and Performances Series, and co-sponsored by the Department of English, the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Program, and the Clement A. Price Institute on Ethnicity, Culture, and the Modern Experience.