Am just back from the first day of the Belladonna ADFEMPO conference at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. The opening plenary got off to a late but energizing start. (It didn’t start so late that I should have arrived home at 2 AM this morning in the back of a police car. But here I am. Not in the police car anymore but at home, in the after burn of that experience. I’d never ridden in a police car before tonight. Can't say that it's something I ever imagined doing. Those back seats are surprisingly stiff, collapsible I’m guessing. The officers were kind, gentle even, and took care to get me home after a bullying cab driver met the stubbornness my family often asks me to keep in check. But I work for a living too…)

So, the conference—ADFEMPO has drawn together a remarkable and wildly ranging crew of writers and thinkers. The conference takes place over two days at CUNY GC, Thursday, September 24th, and Friday, September 25th. Thursday's opening plenary started a bit late as we sorted through the tech difficulties, consolidating the audio/visual components of the opening plenary onto one windows-running Macbook. As the chair of the opening panel, which featured Meta DuEwa Jones, John Keene, Julie Patton, and Evie Shockley, I was excited about the opportunity to pick up threads of various conversations that I’ve had one-on-one with each of these writers. The chance for us to puzzle through a few things in a group conversation. (Next time I’ll make sure to emphasize the import of open and opening conversations between and among the panel and the audience, between the us that is made. We had an hour to cover years worth of territory, so were a bit rushed. The second panel of the afternoon was chaired by Laura Elrick and poets Ammiel Alcalay, Cathy Park Hong, Anne Waldman, and Rachel Zolf. The final plenary consisted of readings and performances by Kathleen Fraser, Erica Hunt, and Eileen Myles. They were a wonderful and nourishing mix of voices that brought questions of belonging, family (made and chosen), bodies (sex and sexed), waste and the wasted, and what words do. This weekend, I’ll post more detailed comments, some of the conference remarks, as well as audio and video clips.

Day two begins later this morning at 10 AM. Here’s a link to the impossible and terrific conference schedule:

Participants spotted on the Program and in Thursday’s audiences. Emily Abendroth, Ammiel Alcalay, Cynthia Arrieu-King, Emily Beall, Dodie Bellamy, Caroline Bergvall, Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, Tamiko Beyer, Cecilia Biagini, Julia Bloch, Pamela S. Booker, Susan Briante, Lee Ann Brown, Laynie Browne, Louis Bury, David Buuck, Angela Carr, Margaret Carson, CAConrad, Ching-In Chen, Mónica de la Torre, LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs, Sarah Dowling, Rachel Blau DuPlessis,Marcella Durand, Kate Eichhorn, Thomas Sayers Ellis, Laura Elrick, Zhang Er, Marilou Esguerra, Jennifer Firestone, Dahlia Fischbein, Kass Fleisher, Kathleen Fraser, Corey Frost, Sarah Gambito, Rosario Garcia-Montero, Nada Gordon, Dana Greene, Monica Hand, Duriel Harris, Carla Harryman, Jeanne Heuving, Kythe Heller, David Henderson, Laura Hinton, Jen Hofer, Cathy Park Hong, Christine Hume, Erica Hunt, Brenda Iijima, The Institute for Domestic Research (IDR: Jacqueline Leggat, Catriona Strang and Christine Stewart), Laura Jaramillo, Meta DuEwa Jones, Angela Joosse, Bhanu Kapil, erica kaufman, John Keene, Dulcinea Lara, Ann Lauterbach, Sueyeun Juliette Lee, Rachel Levitsky, Majena Mafe, Jill Magi, Anna Moschovakis, Laura Mullen, Eileen Myles, Bob Perelman, Michelle Naka Pierce, Janet Neigh, Hoa Nguyen, Mendi Lewis Obadike, Akilah Oliver, Tom Orange, Justin Parks, Soham Patel, Julie Patton, Sandra Payne, Tim Peterson, Vanessa Place, Kristin Prevallet, Sina Queyras, Joan Retallack, Evelyn Reilly, Margaret Rhee, Kim Rosenfield, Jennifer Russo, Trish Salah, Metta Sama, Kaia Sand, Jennifer Scappettone, Tyler T. Schmidt, Gail Scott, Francie Shaw, James Sherry, Evie Shockley, Sally Silvers, Laura Smith, Linda Sormin, Leah Souffrant, Jane Sprague, Patricia Spears Jones, Nathalie Stephens (Nathanaël), Christine Anne Stewart, Stephanie Strickland, Michelle Taransky, Torino: Cecilia Biagini, Dahlia Fischbein, Rosario García-Montero, Rodrigo Toscano, Jacqueline Turner, Chris Tysh, Divya Victor, danielle vogel, Anne Waldman, Christine Wertheim, Kathy Westwater, Simone White, Ronaldo V. Wilson, Rita Wong, Lila Zemborain, Rachel Zolf, Steven Zultanski

Originally Published: September 25th, 2009

Tonya M. Foster was born in Bloomington, Illinois, and raised in New Orleans. She earned a BA from Newcomb College, Tulane University, and an MFA from the University of Houston. Foster is the author of the poetry collection A Swarm of Bees in High Court (Belladonna*, 2015) and coedited the book Third Mind:...

  1. September 25, 2009

    Um, more about the ride in the cop car, please? Did belladonna get rowdy?

  2. September 25, 2009
     Kevin Killian

    Wish i could have gone, Tonya! I talked to Dodie on the phone, she was "on the floor" of the convention, and she said you were especially good. Congratulations.

  3. September 26, 2009
     Kent Johnson

    Of possible interest to this topic-- Hot Gun!, a rather energetic new journal out of London and New Haven: The essay therein by Emily Critchley: "Doubts, Complications, and Distractions: Rethinking the Role of Women in Language Poetry." Very interesting, very pointed.\r\r


  4. September 26, 2009
     Laura Hinton

    Great notes, Tonya. A fanastic conference. For those who could not be there, I'm writing notes on Chant de la Sirene -- and will post photographs from the conference this weekend.\r

    Loved Tonya's late night commentary in the final plenary on the value of "waste."

  5. September 27, 2009

    Kevin, i also wish that you had been able to attend! thanks for the kind words. thank Dodie for me. Must admit how inspired I was by Rachel Levitsky and Erica Kaufman's incredible work and vision in putting this conference together. Am deeply grateful for their invitations to various conversations and to participate in a collective that included Laura Elrick, Akilah Oliver, Kate Eichorn, Laura Jaramillo, Jennifer Scappetone, Emily Beall, and Anna Moschovakis.

  6. September 27, 2009

    kent, i look forward to checking out the essay.

  7. September 27, 2009

    thanks Laura. so much more to post...

  8. September 27, 2009
     patricia spears jones

    Tonya-sorry that the Plenary started late but you never knew what technical stuff will under those circumstances. I wrote up a bit about this in my notes for friends, but I was happy to see the range of thinkers on your panel, but now that I've time to mull things over, what I remember most are your too-brief comments on the idea of The Commons and the common. Later when I got home from the Poets House Ribbon cutting, Rachel Maddow was interviewing (well gushing over) Ken Burns and his new doc on our National Parks as America's Best Idea. He talked about the "commonwealth" and I've often thought about why the commonweal has gone out of political discourse like justice, equality and charity (bleeding hearts). So just to return the discourse to these important cultural and historical elements is so radical. Also, to see the women and men engaged in the Conference was inspiring. I salute you and the Belladonna Women for your ability to link creativity and scholarship.\r
    And glad your riding in a police car was to get you safely home.

  9. September 28, 2009

    Thanks for the post Tonya, and for the link to your blog Laura. I had no idea you blogged and look forward to reports.

  10. October 1, 2009
     Rachel Levitsky

    Hi Tonya, et al, I posted a short note about how i recall this conference coming together at the adfempo blog. There is also a link to Nada Gordon's comments on that blog.