My New Book!

My New Book!
My New Book!

Friday, March 15, 2024

March 15, 2024: NeMLA Reflections: Community Connections

[This past weekend I attended the one scholarly conference I never miss: the Northeast MLA. It was a great time as it always is, so as usual here’s a series of reflections on some of the great work I heard, saw, and shared there! Leading up to a few more reflections on NeMLA as an organization!]

On three ways the NeMLA conference connected to local communities and its host city.

1)      Boston Poetry Slam: In my experiences NeMLA conferences tend to find good ways to get attendees out into the local community, but this year the conference brought local communities to the conference space itself in two compelling ways. One was these three performances by local poets connected to Boston Poetry Slam, a weekly performance that features some of the most talented voices in the city’s poetry and cultural scenes. I don’t know who in particular was behind getting this very cool group connected to and present at the conference, but I definitely give them a standing ovation!

2)      Choreopoems/Choreotexts: The conference’s other unique poetic performance was a bit more scholarly, and thus perhaps more familiar for a conference and organization like NeMLA. But nonetheless, this trio of performances inspired by Ntozake Shange’s choreopoem For Colored Girls bridged the seeming (but far from genuine) gaps between scholarship, poetry and art, and performance, featuring five local scholars whose own work, voices, and careers likewise challenge our sense of these areas as distinct or separate silos. As someone who worked hard in my time as NeMLA President to diversify the conference’s program in every sense, I love this excellent example of that ongoing goal!

3)      Archival Spaces: While NeMLA 2024 thus did a particularly good job bringing local voices and communities to the conference, it still also featured its share of communal connections in the other direction. As someone who’s had the opportunity to give multiple book talks at both the Boston Athenaeum and the Massachusetts Historical Society, I was especially excited that NeMLA made sure to connect any interested attendees to those phenomenal local archives and spaces. Both of these kinds of communities, local archives and scholarly organizations, depend on support and solidarity from one another, and I’ve always loved the ways in which NeMLA models those interconnections.

Special post this weekend,


PS. If you were at NeMLA, what would you share? If not or in any case, other organizations you’d highlight?

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