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Rochester to host Black Mountain North Symposium

The influence of Black Mountain College upon the experimental arts tradition in upstate New York will be the focus of the Black Mountain North Symposium, a three-day conference and festival of the arts in Rochester from Friday through Oct.3rd. 

The symposium, sponsored by Rochester Institute of Technology and two venerable Rochester-based arts organizations -- Writers and Books and the Visual Studies Workshop -- will focus on the legacy of the experimental, interdisciplinary liberal arts college located in the Southern Appalachians of western North Carolina from its founding in 1933 to its demise in 1957. Of particular interest will be the period from 1951 to 1956 when the seminal poet/thinker Charles Olson, later of the University at Buffalo, was the rector of Black Mountain College and Robert Creeley, who would later also become a central figure in American poetry and the co-founder of the UB Poetics Program, taught at the college and became editor of The Black Mountain Review.


It is also one of several conferences coinciding with the centenary celebration of the birth of Charles Olson, the next of which will be Olson at the Century: A Symposium to be held Oct. 14 to Oct. 16 in Buffalo as sponsored by the UB Poetics Program.

The Rochester symposium will feature poetry and visual arts panels focusing on the work of the key figures associated with the college -- such luminaries as Buckmaster Fuller, Robert Duncan, Franz Kline, Willem and Elaine de Kooning, Robert Motherwell, Joel Oppenheimer, and Robert Rauschenberg as well as the composer John Cage and dancer/choreographer Merce Cunningham -- along with readings and several interdisciplinary performances. 


Among the featured speakers and performers at the symposium are legendary poet/musician/activist Ed Sanders, Penelope Creeley, Buffalo State College-based poet-scholar David Landrey, Albert Glover, Black Mountain historian Mary Emma Harris, Black Mountain College alumni Martha Rittenhouse Treichler, Basil King, and Martha King.


Also scheduled to present papers, participate in panel discussions, or read from their work are such current or former members of the Buffalo area literary community as Stephen Baraban, Michael Boughn, Barbara Cass Clarke, Geoffrey Gatza, Kaplan Harris, Michael Kelleher, Margaret Konkol, Mary Richert, and the conference organizer, RIT professor John Roche.


You can view the updated program of the  Black Mountain North Symposium events and their locations as well as learn more about the participants and performers in the symposium, the history of Black Mountain College, and its numerous ties to the artistic and cultural legacy of our region at Black Mountain North .org.


--R.D. Pohl



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