The American Model, 1982

1982: The American Model

[»»] 1982: The American Model: Contents, Index, Contributors: The American Model conference was held at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, from 9 to 12 May, 1979. Later, in 1982, Joan Kirkby (the conference organiser, and an American, brought up in Boise, Idaho) organised for most of the papers delivered there to be published as a book: The American model: influence and independence in Australian poetry, Edited by Joan Kirkby. Published Sydney, N.S.W. : Hale & Iremonger, 1982.

[»»] Illustrations: lots of black and white photos of poets; here we present the sources.

[»»] Joan Kirkby’s Preface

[»»] Acknowledgments: sources for the many papers and talks.

[»»] Introduction, by Joan Kirkby: ‘In anonymous reviews of his own work Walt Whitman contrasted himself with his English contemporary, Alfred Lord Tennyson, and celebrated himself in no uncertain terms…’

[»»] Walt Whitman’s poetic line: by Galway Kinnell: ‘Every poet of my generation in America started out writing formal poetry, and nearly every one of us ended up writing free verse. Each of us needed help in turning to free verse. For me the help came from Walt Whitman.’

[»»] Beware of broken glass: models in a room of mirrors: by Thomas Shapcott: ‘…leaving them floating or reflecting (or refracting) for a moment (I have of course got a use for them later), perhaps I should now make a quick survey of my encounter with ‘The American Model’ in poetry.’

[»»] The Quaker graveyard in Carlton: by Chris Wallace-Crabbe: ‘I want to talk about the way in which the modes and manners of American poetry struck us — and they very distinctively did — in the course of the 1950s.’

[»»] The American model: Penelope or Circe? by Andrew Taylor: ‘I guess this should be a metaphor. I was young. I was prepared to be swept one way or another, frequently totally out of my depth, but I was trusting to luck and, partly, to a developing sense of judgement.’

[»»] William Carlos Williams: by Louis Simpson: ‘[As] [t]he poetry of William Carlos Williams is hardly known in Australia…I shall lay out for you some of the general facts of his life before I discuss his ideas and his writing.’

[»»] Democratic repression and the admission of difference: the ethnic strain: by Fay Zwicky: ‘If being a poet means attempting to confront social disorder and disintegration in personal terms and trying to make poetic sense out of it, then I probably have to count certain American novelists rather than poets as the most profound influences on my thought.’

[»»] Anaesthetics: some notes on the new Australian poetry: by John Tranter: ‘To overcome the inertia of the intellect, a new statement must be an over¬≠statement, and sometimes it is more important that the statement be interesting than it be true. — George Homans’

[»»] Poetry and living: an evaluation of the American poetic tradition: by Robert Gray: ‘Hence the importance of the critic approaching poetry from a very conscious, divulged standpoint — one that must be adequate and defensible. This standpoint, I have come to feel, can only be the humanist or ethical one, which is probably the oldest critical attitude: its least attractive form is Plato’s; at its very best, it is that of Shelley, in ‘A Defence of Poetry’. I will endeavour, in a small way, to make something of this tradition new.’

[»»] Ease of American language: by Vincent Buckley: ‘I got my American poetry by lucky finds, by exchange with other poetry-hoarders like Alexander Craig, and in the form of review copies, got by pointedly asking editors for those books rather than A Gippsland Grandmother or The Last of the Sailing Ships. I reviewed, for example, early Lowell, James Wright, Robert Penn Warren, Kenneth Rexroth.’

[»»] Public voices and private feeling: by Bruce Dawe: ‘I have entitled this paper ‘Public Voices and Private Feeling’ because it seems to me that one of the continuing tasks in which so many Australian poets of the post-war generation are necessarily engaged is the relating of these two areas — the public world in which we have a stake as citizens like everyone else and that private world where we confront the mystery of our individual personalities, our individual perceptions and affections, our individual destinies.’