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All Astir For poetry is not a thing of ink and rhyme, but of thought and act. . . The Confidence-Man, Chapter 37 M elville speaks ironically when he has Mark Winsome introduce his disciple as a “practical poet in the West India trade” and claims that, as a matter of “thought and act,” Egbert’s poetry “is by any one to be found anywhere, when in useful action sought.” As this special issue of Leviathan focuses attention throughout its pages on Melville’s “ink and rhyme,” our “Extracts” section reminds us of the “useful action” of our members and affiliates worldwide. Winsome’s definition of poetry as thought and act makes inspired sense of the Melville Society’s many endeavors in the past half-year: a lively panel at the American Literature Association conference in Boston (May), a provocative Melville Birthday Lecture at the New Bedford Whaling Museum (July), and the Society’s sixth international conference in Szczecin, Poland (August). The conference in Poland, Hearts of Darkness: Melville and Conrad in the Space of World Culture, co-chaired by Pawel Jedrzejko and Milton Reigelman, drew scholars from Algeria, Australia, Canada, England, France, Germany, Japan, Israel, Italy, Montenegro, New Zealand, Scotland, Spain, Turkey, as well as many parts of Poland and the U.S. The fact that the conference coincided with the closing festivities of the Tall Ships race and was listed in the programs for those events made it possible for over a million people to know that the Melville Society was in Szczecin—and that estimate is a conservative one. Participants in the conference could take advantage of a dazzling array of papers during the day and then slip away to sample delicious food and local beer, endless concerts and entertainments, and warm, joyous crowds coursing along the town’s waterfront, like so many “bronzed mariners. . . in holiday attire ashore on liberty” (Billy Budd). We will try to do justice to the many pleasures of the conference in our next issue, with reports from co-chairs, keynote speakers, and participants. The Melville Society panel at ALA in Boston, chaired by Elizabeth Renker, took up the question of “Melville and the Meaning of Genre,” with papers on “Fragments from a Writing Desk” and “Rammon,” “The Encantadas ,” The Confidence-Man, and late uncollected poems. The session was very well attended and inspired considerable discussion; a group of almost twenty present adjourned for dinner afterward at Legal Sea Foods. Please see the abstracts that follow. C  2007 The Authors Journal compilation C  2007 The Melville Society and Blackwell Publishing Inc L E V I A T H A N A J O U R N A L O F M E L V I L L E S T U D I E S 153 E X T R A C T S As the culmination of the Melville Society Cultural Project’s Melville Lyceum series, the Melville Birthday Lecture in New Bedford has usually been a celebratory event. This year, the fifth at the Whaling Museum since the affiliation formed, offered a new and special format. Robert K. Wallace moderated a panel in which two theater artists, Rinde Eckert (creator of the opera And God Created Great Whales) and Ricardo Pitts-Wiley (creator of the play Moby-Dick: Then and Now) debated the question of “What Melville Means to Me.” The program featured singing, dramatic readings, and passionate dialogue between two exceptionally thoughtful interpreters of Melville’s works. We have included Robert Wallace’s report and transcription in this issue. The Birthday Lecture also brings the MSCP to New Bedford for its second round of meetings for the year. Mary K. Bercaw Edwards, Wyn Kelley, and Robert Wallace met with Museum personnel to discuss progress on its various projects: the Museum’s planned renovation of its permanent exhibits, featuring Melville-related text and ideas; a Melville audio tour that might be downloaded from the Museum’s website for use as a podcast; and support for efforts to make Moby-Dick the Massachusetts state book. Work in the Archive continues, with Robert Wallace’s donation of eleven hefty loose-leaf binders containing materials relating to the early history of the Cultural Project...


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