Featured resources

  1. Charles Bernstein -
    St. McC. MP3
  2. Amiri Baraka -
    Against Bourgeois Art MP3
  3. Michael Palmer -
    Lies of the Poem MP3
  4. Henry Hills -
    Money MOV
  5. Barrett Watten -
    "I dreamed of a group of sociable foxes in the basement" MP3
  6. Steve McCaffery -
    The Baker Transformation MP3
  7. Bruce Andrews -
    Feature MP3
  8. Jackson Mac Low -
    Feeling Down Clementi Felt Imposed Upon From Every Direction (HSCH 10) MP3
  9. Ron Silliman -
    Quindecagon MP3
  10. Rod Smith -
    This is Such Total Bullshit MP3
  11. Rachel Blau Duplessis -
    Draft 72: Nanifesto MP3
  12. K. Silem Mohammad -
    Sonnet 154: The little love god lying once asleep MP3

Selected by Brian Ang (read more about his choices here)

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PoemTalk 86: on Tyrone Williams' 'Written By H'Self' and 'Cant'

Posted 3/24/2015

Today we released the eighty-sixth program in the PoemTalk Podcast series, which focuses on two poems from Tyrone Williams' 2008 Omnidawn collection, On Spec: "Written By H'Self" and "Cant." Joining host Al Filreis for this show is a panel that includes Alan Golding, Lily Applebaum and Herman Beavers.

Filreis' write-up on the PoemTalk blog starts with an acknowledgment of the complexity of these poems: "These densely allusive poems meant that our first task was to peel back at least some of the layers of referentiality, yet the layers overlap, are torqued, punned, entendred, homophoned and doubly and triply and quadrupally historicized — sometimes, in one word or phrase, conjuring social, geographical, historical, juridical, psychological, musical, poetic, theoretical registers. Among the allusions we trace: Eliot's 'Tradition and the Individual Talent'; the Washington/DuBois debate over the 'Talented Tenth'; the 'one drop' racial rule; the John Henry Complex; the Cumberland Gap as an escape route; the Gap (source for jeans) and marketing fetishes; the folkloric figure of Stagger Lee, who murdered for the swiping of his Stetson; the Happy Feet of African American dancers and Disney animationists; the signature of the slave narrativist, needed to 'prove' her and his capacity for self-authoring; Booker T. Washington's Atlanta Exposition speech of 1896; 'Terrible Tom' with his three historical personages, including the blind autistic musician whose race and music are categorically indecipherable; the historical relegation of black musicians to vernacular music; and Moby-Dick." You can read more about the program on Jacket2.

PoemTalk is a co-production of PennSound, the Kelly Writers House, Jacket2 and the Poetry Foundation. If you're interested in more information on the series or want to hear our archives of previous episodes, please visit the PoemTalk blog, and don't forget that you can subscribe to the series through the iTunes music store.

Claudia Rankine Reads at Temple University, 2015

Posted 3/22/2015

Speaking of Claudia Rankine, we're very happy to be able to share the poet's reading at Temple University last Thursday night — an even that brought out a massive and enthusiastic audience. Ranking's set, which drew exclusively from her National Book Critics Circle Award-winning collection, Citizen: An American Lyric, ran just short of an hour. Audio of the complete reading is available, along with an eighteen-minute video clip shot by Charles Bernstein.

Jena Osman provided the evening's introductory comments, meditating on the subtitle of Rankine's last two books, noting that:

Anybody who has read or written a poem is familiar with the conventional lyric mode, where some I, some consciousness, talks about thoughts and feelings that make us, the listeners or the readers, have thoughts and feelings in turn. The lyric draws us closer, might make us feel like we're sharing a secret, or an epiphany, or a love, or a disappointment. We might feel like we're communing with this I, this someone, who has chosen us to be their confidant. We might project ourselves into that I and think, "Yes, I can relate. Yes, that's the truth." But whose truth? That's where the trouble starts. The lyric I is the first person singular, and as it's conventionally used, it presumes our bond, even when it's not in our plural images, not in our plural interests. Ranking's documentary poems are fully aware of that glitch in the system and work to fix it. In Citizen, the lyric subject is you, second person, and while that pronoun can bring you closer in an intimate way, it can also call you out. As the poet Erica Hunt has said in a review of Citizen, "You, the reader, called out as bystander, are compelled to stand at attention." You're compelled to notice the race-based microaggressions that you may endure, or that you may inflict. As you read Rankine's poems, you never leave the realm of feeling, however you must examine your own position: are you the first person or the second person, the other person? If you're one, how do you recognize the other? How do you see the other? Meet the other? Could it be otherwise?

You can listen to this recording and many others on PennSound's Claudia Rankine author page.

Congratulations to National Book Critics Circle Award Winner Claudia Rankine

Posted 3/19/2015

Congratulations are in order for Claudia Rankine, who was recently announced as this year's winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry for her groundbreaking book, Citizen: An American Lyric. In their announcement the NBCC noted that Citizen — which "maps the uneasiness and charged space of living race now, miraculously breaking racism's intractability down into human-sized installations, accounts of relationships and examples of speech" — "made history for having been the first book to be a finalist in two categories (poetry and criticism)."

We gladly point our listeners towards all of the recordings that can be found on Rankine's PennSound author page, but in particular, her 2014 appearance on Between the Covers with David Naimon, in which she discusses the book, its contexts and composition, in encyclopedic detail. It's a wonderful introduction to the book for those who haven't had a chance to read it yet, and it'll send those who have back into its pages to consider the work in a different light.

PennSound Daily is written by Michael S. Hennessey.

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