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This report is taken from PN Review 192, Volume 36 Number 4, March - April 2010.

Introduction John Armstrong and Derek Ryan

New Clear Forms: American Poetry and Cold War Culture took place on 11 and 12 September at the University of Glasgow. With its focus on poetry and poetics in this turbulent period of American history, the conference aimed to foster debate and exchange in an effort to understand further the complex relationships between propaganda and private consciousness, rebellion and art, nation and self. By offering the Cold War as both a historical timeframe and a political backdrop for scholars of American poetry to engage with, our hope was for diversity and focus in the range of poets and themes discussed, and we were delighted by the response and enthusiasm from those who attended and presented.

The conference brought together an array of postgraduates and established scholars working in different institutions across the world. Delegates from Australia, North America, Taiwan and Spain - as well as British universities such as Oxford and Sussex - ensured that Glasgow was host to a truly international event. Such diversity was reflected in the varied approaches of our plenary speakers: Michael Schmidt (University of Glasgow), ‘Resisting the Contemporary Reader’; Geoff Ward (Royal Holloway University), ‘“I announce a new world/ I announce the death of Orpheus” (Jack Spicer): Poetry and the Rift’; and Adam Piette (University of Sheffield), ‘Cold War Dissent: Grace Paley, Denise Levertov, Anne Waldman’. In addition, Colin Still’s short documentaries on Frank O’Hara, Allen Ginsberg and Amiri Baraka - as well as the premiere of his extended piece on the ...
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