Calls for Papers

CFP for Spring 2017 Special Issue of Wallace Stevens Journal

The Wallace Stevens Journal invites submissions of full-length essays for a Spring 2017 special issue on Wallace Stevens and Robert Frost. Any aspect of the poets’ works or lives may be proposed. Editors welcome innovative twists on traditional topics, and they are equally interested in understudied topics that have urgency in the contemporary world of theory and criticism, such as colonialism and postcoloniality, disability studies, ecocriticism, technopolitics, gender studies, and popular/mass culture.

Frost and Stevens famously lacked an appreciation for each other’s work. The two exchanged few letters and met fewer times; in their best known interchange, Stevens reportedly said to Frost, ‘The trouble with you is you write about things.’ And Frost replied, ‘The trouble with you is you write about bric-a-brac.” (Brazeau 132). Frost apparently resented Stevens as an aloof intellectual who “looks down on everybody” (181, 136). Similarly, their best-known work seems to hold little in common: against Frost’s dialogic narratives, reputedly plain diction, and devotion to charting place and character of local America, there are Stevens’ philosophic series , inventive language, and regard for an abstract sense of place , rather than the substance, of the locations in which he situates his poems. Likewise, their best-known public images–the buttoned-up insurance-executive composing poems while walking briskly to lunch or asking secretaries to look up words in OED is not akin to either Randall Jarrell’s portrait of the farmer-poet Frost or to Lionel Trilling’s revision of Frost as the author of “terrifying” poems.

And yet the poet of “The Snow Man” and the poet of “Desert Places” share a surprising number of correspondences in their lives and writing. Both are transplanted New Englanders who courted and eventually married hometown sweethearts, with mixed results, and they weathered personal disappointments amid increasing critical acclaim. Both read widely in contemporary science and philosophy, loved languages and etymology, wrote imaginative geographies or paeans to place (one more concrete than the other), and continued to write in traditional poetic forms, employing meter, when their contemporaries eschewed such practices. Both are argued as central to a pragmatist Emersonian tradition in American literature and share additional relations to William James, Wordsworth, and Keats. Both also are known for their use of architectural imagery. And, of course, both published their first books relatively late.

The editors also welcome from poets and artists in any field a less formal reflection centered upon what each of these poets has meant to you–in terms of your aesthetic development or your sense of the traditions and possibilities of American poetry and poetics. Each of these poets has famously come in for reappraisals: How might your understanding or use of these figures ask us again to understand what each has meant–or could mean–to writers and readers today? What possibilities, whether in particular poems or signature features, do we have yet to discover or fully understand? How do you–with the hindsight of a century of modern and global poetic practices–consider their comparative legacies?

Such a contribution may be written as a creative or a critical piece; it may be brief, i.e., no more than a page. And it may forego the conventions of formal academic prose.

For inquiries, please send an abstract and short bio to Steven Axelrod and Natalie Gerber by February 1, 2016; or submit full-length essays by June 15, 2016.