Monday, April 18, 2016

Event 2 - Poetry: The Kinetics – Black Mountain College’s Literary Descendants

Black Mountain College in its minimalistic entirety
This past Thursday I stopped by the Hammer Museum to listen to a few students from Black Mountain College pay homage to their pride and joy. They are all acclaimed scholars in the field of literature and poetry, but their messages pervade art and science the same. The four speakers present were: Michael Davidson, Rachel Blau DuPlessis, Duncan McNaughton, and Michael Palmer. The one speaker that stood out the most to me was Michael Davidson. He was the first speaker, and gave a history on Black Mountain College. He explained how the pillars of the school included an interdisciplinary approach to studies, it furnished individual initiative, and required community service and engagement. These pillars were meant to mold Black Mountain students into a well-rounded and engaged member of society. He described a college where the faculty was hardly differentiated from the students, and there was no administration. The pay was minimal, and the students and teachers were expected to learn from one another in a holistic approach to education. The school mainly furnished studies in the overarching field of Humanities, but welcomed scholars from any field who wished to collaborate with the great young minds of this liberal arts college.

He read aloud two poems, one by Robert Duncan entitled, "Often I am Permitted to Return to a Meadow," and another by Robert Creeley entitled, "The Immortal Proposition." The first had to do with sensation, using provocative language to have the reader see, feel, smell, taste, and hear the happenings at this enchanted meadow. Nature is hailed as the immaculate setting in this work, and the sensation of nature is quantified through the poem. This type of physical reality is what many scientists work to improve on, but in this poem, nature is praised to have the utmost potential for us to explore and "return to" it's perfection whenever we'd like. Science tries to copy and then enhance these experiences to appease our over-expectant standards, such as taking a natural herbal remedy and and extracting a powerful drug from it, but this is unnecessary according to Duncan's view of nature. In stark contrast, "The Immoral Proposition" took an internal and more philosophical position on activity. It petitions everyone to set aside egos or predispositions in order to work toward a common goal. This seemed like an even more applicable topic when dealing with elitist scientists and exclusive artists. The possibilities when these two types scholars come together are boundless, and looking back, this was the exact message Black Mountain College longed to instill in their students; to inspire a subject expansive network of scholars collaborating for the common good.
Brochure and poem
handout at the event
Introduction to the panel of speakers taken at the event
Ticket stub at the event


Creeley, Robert, and René Laubiès. The Immoral Proposition. Karlsruhe-Durlach/Baden: Jargon, 1953. Print.

Davidson, Michael, Rachel Blau DuPlessis, Duncan McNaughton, and Michael Palmer. "Poetry - The Kinetics." Black Mountain College's Literary Descendents. Hammer Museum, Westwood. 14 Apr. 2016. Reading.

Duncan, Robert. The Opening of the Field: Often I Am Permitted to Return to a Meadow. New York: Grove, 1960. Print.

"Black Mountain College." State Archives of North Carolina: Natural and Cultural Resources. State Archives North Carolina. Web. 18 Apr. 2016.

"Hammer Readings - Poetry: The Kinetics - Black Mountain College's Literary Descendants." The Hammer Museum. One Long House, 14 Apr. 2016. Web. 18 Apr. 2016.

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