My First Academic Conference!

Today I had one of the most exciting and engaging experiences of my summer research so far—attending an academic conference on William Carlos Williams and his writings to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his poetry book, Al Que Quiere! At the conference, I was able to hear various papers on Williams’s writings and publications, which not only exposed me to fresh ideas on Williams’s style and views of literature, but also provided me the invaluable experience of participating in the community of scholarship surrounding my topic.

Though I did enjoy listening to the papers themselves and gaining new perspectives on topics including Williams’s personal life, his views on language and imagination, and even matters such as his family’s ethnic history that had never crossed my mind before, I had an even better time talking with the presenters and other conference attendees after the formal discussions were completed. My thesis advisor introduced me to various scholars, some of whom have published essays that I have been reading in my studies, some of whom are young and fresh to the literary scene, and all of whom were open to sharing their ideas, hearing my own thoughts, and sharing our perspectives. It was exciting and refreshing to experience the literary world that I often only engage in via articles and books in a real life social situation!

In addition to discussing papers, the conference also included a guided tour of Williams’s hometown of Rutherford, NJ, where he lived and practiced medicine, as well as Paterson, NJ, which is the site of his most famous work. This tour brought Williams’s world and that of his short stories and poetry to life! I was able to see Williams’s house and medical practice at his famous “9 Ridge Road” address, observe artifacts such as his doctor’s bag, prescription pads and drawers, furniture, and more. I even toured the great Passaic Falls in Paterson, NJ, which serve as a source of destructive, violent, and simultaneously regenerative power in many of Williams’s poems.

Overall, this tour gave me new perspectives on Williams and his writing and medicine, as well as a better grasp of the workings of the literary community. It energized and excited me, giving me new zeal as I move forward in my research.