This year’s conference began with “an emerging scholars workshop,” which I dutifully missed, being neither emerging nor a scholar. After that a recital by pianist MaryClare Martin was held at Tor House, featuring Una’s newly restored Sterinway.
This was Geneva Gano’s first RJA conference as RJA president. The conference featured presentations by Kathleen Sonntag, Tim Barnes, Dale Ann Stieber, ShauneAnne Tangney, James Karman, Robert Zaller, Brett Colasacco, Kevin Batton, John Cusatis, Steven B. Herrmann, and J.R. Phillips. Rob Kafka read a paper by Ugo Gervasoni.
A tribute to Alex Vardamis was included in the procedings, as well as three performances by Lili Bita.
The theme for the 2015 RJA conference was “Humanizing Jeffers: Father, Son, Neighbor, Friend, Lover.” I was skeptical about where this theme was likely to lead, as I doubted that anyone would attempt anything controversial, but to my pleasant surprise, a writer whom I had only known of through a blog presented an astonishingly frank argument against Everson’s Mal Paso hypothesis. I didn’t expect such a breath of fresh air because the author, Mick McAllister, (1) does not use his name much online, and (2) gave his presentation a rather innocuous title: “Intruding on Jeffers: Some Notes on Biographical Mythology.” The corresponding blog entry, the Mal Paso Misstep, is available on Mr. McAllister’s Jeffers blog, Alma Venus.